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Top Tips For Healthy Joints That Every Runner Needs To Know

by Dr Juliet McGrattan

Regular runners can end up covering a lot of miles as the weeks and months go by, especially when training for long distance events. It’s really important that you take good care of yourself.  If you have an event coming up then, whilst your focus is probably on making sure you get to the start (and finish) line it’s a good idea to make sure that you’re thinking beyond that too and future-proofing your body for life-long healthy running. Getting into good habits will stand you in good stead for the many miles to come. 

Whilst studies have shown that runners have less joint problems and need fewer joint replacements than inactive people, it doesn’t just give us a green card to pound the streets for days on end and assume we won’t do any harm.

Here are my top tips for looking after your joints during your training:

* Include regular strength and conditioning exercises. Weekly sessions will help strengthen up the muscles around your joints which will take the impact and pressure off them

* Follow a training plan. Increasing the intensity and duration of your runs will allow your joints to adapt to the increased work

* Get off the road. Try including some miles on softer terrain like trails and grass to reduce impact and strengthen lower leg muscles

* Take rest days. Joints need time to adapt and repair themselves so days of rest, lighter activities and cross training will let the natural repair processes take place

* Maintain good biomechanics. If you think you have any postural issues or are prone to injury, then consider getting a physio assessment to look for imbalances. Don’t exercise when you’re injured as normal joint alignment is disrupted

* Eat well. A healthy, varied diet full of fresh foods will ensure your body has all the building blocks it needs for healthy joints.

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