How to soften joint impact to avoid injury when running
Simply Supplements are a leading UK supplier of high quality nutritional vitamins and minerals, and aim to make healthy living simpler. This article focuses on the impacts of running on joint health, and offers some suggestions on how to prevent and recover from joint injury.
The impact of running on the joints, particularly the knees, is not something that can be prevented, but there are steps that can be taken to minimise this impact and protect the joints.
Posture is an important factor to consider when running. In order to avoid joint injury, shoulders should be kept back, and the spine straight. In addition, lean slightly forward and keep your head up, whilst also ensuring that neck, jaw, and shoulder muscles are all relaxed.
Be careful not to over-stride as this will mean that the knee is straight upon landing, which causes a large amount of impact to travel to both the heel and the knee. To avoid this, keep the knees bent and soft during landing.
Also ensure that your feet are pointed straight forward in the direction you are running. If the feet are pointed to the side, strain is placed upon the knee ligaments and tendons which can lead to injuries.
Poor landing technique can play a large role in the onset of joint injuries and pain. Landing heel first massively increases the pressure to the knee joints, and therefore increases the risk of injury. Instead, striking the ground with the ball of the foot distributes the impact across the foot and cushions the joint. This practice also enables you to generate more power from the calf muscles and can improve overall performance.
Ill fitting or worn out shoes can have a negative impact on the joints. Choose a pair that fit properly, and provide the foot with support and cushioning. Running shoes should offer support to the heel, arch and ball of the foot. This ensures that weight is distributed evenly throughout the foot, reducing the impact on the joints. Worn out or damaged shoes should be replaced immediately in order to avoid causing injury.
Outdoor versus Treadmill running
The harder the surface you run on, the heavier the impact and stress on the joints. Compact surfaces such as concrete place most pressure on the knees, and therefore are most likely to cause joint injury. Running on softer surfaces such as asphalt, track or grass will place less impact on the joints. Running on sand reduces strain on the knees, but loose or soft sand can also result in ankle injuries, so due care must be taken.
For runners with existing joint injuries, treadmill running provides a good alternative to outdoor running. Using a treadmill allows you to maintain a steady pace, and can also absorb the shock when your feet strike the belt, ensuring that the joints feel less impact.
Outdoor running places more impact on joints due to the presence of more obstacles, uneven terrain, unexpected twists and turns, and changes in surface. Grassy surfaces offer more cushioning for the joints than running on a treadmill, but the surface may be uneven which therefore increases the chances of other kinds of injury such as trips and falls, as well as ankle injuries.
Supplements to consider
Simply Supplements offers a range of products that can help to protect the joints before, during and after exercise.
Glucosamine supplements are particularly popular with runners. Glucosamine is a substance found naturally in the cartilage of healthy joints. When joints are placed under sustained stress they are subject to ‘wear and tear’ which damages the cartilage. This results in the painful grinding of bone on bone. Studies suggest that Glucosamine supplements may help to strengthen the cartilage between joints and therefore keep joints healthy. Glucosamine supplements are often taken in combination with Chondroitin, as this is believed to improve the absorption of Glucosamine into the body.
- Studies show that MSM can help to improve joint flexibility. This biologically available source of sulphur is often taken in combination with glucosamine sulphate for optimum joint health.
Hyaluronic Acid is a naturally occurring substance in joints and is essential for the process of cell growth and renewal. It also helps to lubricate and maintain the ‘cushion’ between the joints. When levels of hyaluronic acid are low, this cushion can become thinner, which greatly increases the risk of injury.
- Calcium and Vitamin D are essential for strong bones. Healthy bones help to keep you upright and reduce the risk of falls that can lead to joint damage. The presence of vitamin D is essential for the body’s absorption of calcium.
All of the supplements recommended in this article are available from Simply Supplements.
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