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Staying on Track – A Joint Care Guide for Runners

By Jessica Kuepfer

One of the most frequent things I get asked when people find out that I am a runner is if I am worried about ruining my knees.

The short answer is no.

For me, being an athlete is about preserving my body and ensuring it is as healthy as possible, not wearing it out! Joints, like the rest of your body, will operate well as long as they are taken care of.

Some of the things I do to ensure that I am a healthy athlete for many years to come are:

Weight Training – I fix muscle imbalances and bank joints that tend to be unstable with muscle. For instance, I do a lot of single leg work with proper form to ensure that each of my legs are strong and able to move optimally while I am training.

Flexibility – Increasing the flexibility of your joints plays an important role in ensuring long term health. I keep a varied program of yoga and stretching in my routine in order to keep all of my joints moving well.

Varying Training Surfaces – Constantly moving on the same surface can lead to overuse injuries and joint issues. I vary the terrain that I train on by switching between hard surfaces such as concrete to softer areas such as trails and gravel roads.

Cross Training – I add a healthy rotation of cross training that moves my muscles and joints in different ways than simply running. I row, cycle, swim and play sports that allow me to move on different movement planes and keep my body strong.

Focusing on Form – Repetitively landing incorrectly can cause issues for joints as well. I take time to ensure that my running form is correct and I am moving as efficiently as possible so I am not stressing my joints. Maintaining a proper posture also helps to keep my back strong and healthy.

Nutrition – A healthy, anti-inflammatory diet plays a key role in keeping joints healthy. I have lots of fruits and veggies, eat healthy fats such as avocados and nuts and regularly supplement with fish oil. If I do take something for workout pain, I opt for a pain relief option with eggshell membrane.

Wearing the Right Shoes – Wearing ill-fitting or over worn shoes will contribute to joint break down by causing improper form and extra jarring for joints. Make sure you are replacing your shoes every 300-500 miles and wearing the right pair for your stride.

It doesn’t need to be healthy joints or a busy, athletic life. If you incorporate a healthy lifestyle to preserve your joints, you can be moving well for the rest of your life!

Article by Jessica Kuepfer of  Laces & Lattes 
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