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How to soften joint impact to avoid injury when running

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Posted by Suzie H of Simply Supplements under Running on 20 May 2013 at 11:00 PM

Simply SupplementsSimply 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.

Technique

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.

Land with knees bent

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.

Landing technique

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.

Footwear

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.

Beach running on sand - easier on knees

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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    Comments

    20131122040327-janeh

    Thank you for this article, excellent timing for me. I have been suffering from a tender big toe after long runs, now I realize it might just be arthritis. I have been thinking about taking glucosamine, might help joints too. Good to hear the benefits of treadmill running, it can be tedious at times, but necessary when the weather is unpleasant.

    Brenda D and Suzie H encouraged this.

    20130427101712-joannem

    Enjoyed this article. I started taking glucosamine and chondroitin a while ago on advise from a friend who had been taking it. While I don't have any joint problems at the moment it is to protect against the future and have heard that anyone over 30 should consider it. This came from someone in the medical profession. Interested to read about landing on the ball of the foot also as I know a lot of people don't so this.Lots of food for thought! Thanks

    Brenda D and Suzie H encouraged this.

    20130913175632-jesper11

    Hi, would anyone be able to clear my doubts? I have a few friends saying there are some side effects while taking Glucosamine. For myself, i took Glucosamine as well but after taking for a week, i start to feel heaty and sore throat. Any comments?

    20140104142650-george-harry

    Im bow-legged, so always have pain in my knees if I do anything like jogging/running, and a few years ago I was told that humans are meant to move around on the balls of their feet, but we got lazy (which isn't hard to see, especially us british haha) so I started running on the balls of my feet and now I can run further, and in a LOT less pain, only from the fact that I've been running for a while haha

    Kirsten M and Suzie H encouraged this.

    20130427101712-joannem

    Jesper I certainly havent had any from my side effects. Maybe you will just have to try yourself. Everyone reacts differently to different things. Good luck

    Suzie H encouraged this.

    20140430192850-towardfarm

    Nice article Suzie we have all our horses on Glucosamine and MSM due to joint pressure in dressage and they thrive on it, I take calcium but then have to supplement with magnesium too as too much calcium then locks it up and I get tired and Vit D I'm on as well! Hoping for long term joint health!

    Suzie H encouraged this.

    20130412153835-simplysupplements

    Thank you all for your kind comments. Glad that we have been able to provide some useful information! :) Jesper; There have been many tests and research done on glucosamine, and there have been no serious side effects that have been found. However, we would always recommend seeing your GP if you feel that you have had a reaction to the supplement. Hope this helps!

    Kirsten M and Teresa D encouraged this.

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