Injury Prevention Exercises and Tips for Runners

Table of Contents

Injury Prevention Exercises and Tips for Runners

Table of Contents

You can’t beat running as a great cardiovascular workout. The benefits for your physical, mental, and emotional health have been well-researched and published. 

However, injuries are a ‘hazard’ of being a runner and everyone seems to have their own opinions about an effective solution to this problem. In this article, we add our thoughts about simple exercises that prevent injury to muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints and share findings about the benefit of adding a carnosine supplement that you can use to help your body along. It’s a natural compound already found in your body, and it’s approved for competitive use. 

The idea is to provide preventative strategies to cut out as many injuries as possible. Join us as we help you achieve that.

Exercises to prevent muscle injuries

Woman running outdoors

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Let’s begin by discussing common muscle injuries and then go straight into simple exercises you can do that will help strengthen your body and prevent injury. Do the exercises daily for up to 15 minutes as part of a warm-up or cooling-down routine, or do them as strength training. 

Common muscle injuries that result from running

Muscle injuries fall into the category of strains and pulls. They occur because you’ve overdone it, and these injuries are commonly known as overuse injuries. As you exercise or do strength training exercises, your muscles flex and bend. If you don’t do warm-up exercises and stretches where they can gradually adjust, then muscle fibers extend too far, snapping or tearing, or going into spasms as the body tries to protect you from injury. Here are the well-known ones:

  • Hamstring Strains: Overstretching or tears in the muscles at the back of the thigh.
  • Quadriceps Strains: Injuries to the muscles on the front of the thigh due to overuse or sudden contraction.
  • Calf Strains: Tears or overstretching of the muscles in the calf, which can lead to muscle tightness and pain.
  • Groin Pulls: Strain of the muscles of the inner thigh, or adductors, often due to sudden movements or overextension.
  • Hip Flexor Strain: Overuse or stretching of the hip flexors, the muscles that allow you to lift your knees and bend at the waist.

Injury prevention exercises

Female runner exercising

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Hamstring Curls

To strengthen the hamstrings and prevent injury risk, lie on your stomach and slowly bring your heels as close to your buttocks as you can, and then slowly lower back down. Using resistance bands or a leg curl machine can also be effective. 

Leg Press

A good quadricep injury prevention exercise, do this often to strengthen the quads. Using a leg press machine, position your feet shoulder-width apart on the platform. Extend your legs to push the platform away, then slowly return to the starting position. 

Lunges

If you don’t have access to a leg press machine, then you can do lunges to strengthen your quads. Stand with your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Step forward with your left leg and lower your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle, your body weight is centered, and your other knee doesn’t touch the floor. Switch legs and repeat. 

Standing Calf Raises

To prevent calf strains. Stand on the edge of a step with your heels hanging off the edge. Raise your heels above the step by extending your ankles as high as possible and then lower them below the step.

Sumo Squats

Sprinting, trail running and interval training can all cause groin strains. To prevent this, and as a warm-up before these activities, do sumo squats. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing out. Squat down, keeping your weight on your heels, and then rise back up to the starting position.

Standing Hip Flexor Stretch

Stand with one foot forward and one back, in a staggered stance. Bend your front knee, push your hips forward, and hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds.

Overcome muscle injury with carnosine supplementation.

The ideal injury strategy is multifaceted. Overall health and fitness, joined by injury prevention exercises that target muscles and supporting structures, and a support therapy such as carnosine reduces the chance of injury by a much greater degree than adopting only a single approach. 

To maximize injury prevention efforts, add a carnosine supplement to your routine. The supplement (CarnoSport) provides protective and recovery benefits that have been scientifically studied by over 800 researchers. 

Muscle cells are some of the most metabolically active cells in our body. They are the workhorses of the body because when we start doing exercise the activity in muscle cells increases and you need a really good pH buffer to prevent the build-up of lactic acid. 

Lactic acid is a natural byproduct of the anaerobic metabolism of glucose that occurs in muscle cells during intense exercise. This can delay the onset of muscle fatigue and improve muscle endurance, allowing individuals to exercise for longer periods. Carnosine has a pKa of 6.8 (an ideal muscle buffer is 6.5 – 7.1).

Applying CarnoSport before and after exercise reduces the risk of injury, improves performance, and reduces muscle fatigue. As your fitness and body strength increase as a result of exercising without the negative effects of lactic acid, you are giving your own body the best chance of preventing future injuries. 

Chemipower and Tartu University proudly offer you a safe, natural, effective gel supplement that is accepted by professional sporting federations. 

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Exercises to prevent joint, tendon, and ligament injuries

A group of  people running outdoors

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Just as with any well-used machine, our bodies can experience wear and tear, leading to breakdowns in function—particularly in our joints, tendons, and ligaments. But there’s good news: it’s never too late to start implementing habits to mitigate these issues. While degenerative conditions such as arthritis present more complex challenges, targeted exercises can strengthen the supporting structures around our joints and improve overall function.

Let’s review some typical injuries among runners that affect joints, tendons, and ligaments and then explore exercises that can avert these injuries. 

Common Running-Related Joint, Tendon, and Ligament Injuries

  • Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome): Pain around the kneecap. This is often caused by running on uneven surfaces, which creates misalignment. It can also occur due to incorrect running shoes. Over-training is another reason for PPS.
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS): Affects the knee joint. ITBS is caused by inflammation of the ITB as it crosses the lateral side of the knee joint, usually resulting in pain on the outer part of the knee. This condition occurs when you increase your distance too quickly. Amateur runners tend to do this because they feel good and have extra energy, so they want to keep going. Don’t make this beginner’s mistake if possible, because it will cost you in the long run. 
  • Achilles Tendinitis: An Achilles tendon injury affects the area around the ankle joint. While the tendon itself is not a joint, its health is crucial for the proper functioning of the ankle joint, facilitating movements such as walking, running, and jumping. Injuries to the Achilles tendon can lead to problems with the ankle joint due to the interconnectedness of the musculoskeletal system.
  • Ankle Sprain: Often occurs when the foot turns inward, stretching or tearing the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury: A tear or sprain of this critical knee ligament is common in sports with sudden changes of direction or stops.

Exercises to Strengthen Joints, Tendons, and Ligaments

Runner strengthening core with floor exercise

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Leg Lifts 

Raise one leg off the floor, keeping it as straight as possible. Lift the leg until it’s in line with your hip or as far as you can go without straining. Hold the position briefly at the top. Lower the leg slowly back to the starting position. Now do the same with the opposite leg. 

Side Leg Raises

This exercise promotes IT band flexibility and strength. Lie on your side with your body in a straight line, legs stacked on top of each other, and rest your head on your lower arm.

Keep your top leg straight, and raise it upwards while keeping the foot in a neutral position. Lift the leg as high as comfortable without compromising form. Pause briefly at the top of the movement. Lower the leg back down to the starting position in a controlled manner.

Hip Thrusts

This exercise supports the IT band. Sit on the ground with your upper body resting against a bench or stable surface. Bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the floor hip-width apart. Drive through your heels to lift your hips upward, forming a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Squeeze your glutes hard at the top of the movement. Hold the position briefly. Lower your hips back down to the starting position.

Ankle Circles

Improve ankle flexibility and range of motion. Sit down with one leg extended out in front of you. Lift the extended leg slightly off the ground. Point your toes and move your foot in a circular motion, circling the ankle. Complete the circles in one direction for a set count, then switch and do circles in the opposite direction.

Can carnosine supplementation help strengthen joints, tendons, and ligaments?

As we’ve been discussing, the role of carnosine in buffering pH in skeletal muscles during high-intensity exercise is perhaps the most researched; however, emerging evidence suggests its beneficial effects extend to the recovery and protection of joint, tendon, and ligament tissues, particularly in runners who subject these structures to repetitive stress and potential injury.

In the context of joint health, carnosine’s anti-inflammatory properties can help mitigate the chronic inflammation that often accompanies joint-related injuries. This could potentially accelerate the recovery process, allowing runners to resume their training with less downtime.

For tendon and ligament health, carnosine’s role is twofold: it acts as an antioxidant and supports collagen integrity. Tendons and ligaments are collagen-rich structures, and the maintenance of this protein is vital for their elasticity and strength. Carnosine can help prevent collagen degradation by neutralizing free radicals that damage these tissues. Additionally, the antioxidant properties of carnosine can protect against oxidative stress, a contributing factor to tissue injury and impaired healing.

Moreover, carnosine has been shown to possess anti-glycation properties, preventing the formation of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) that can stiffen and weaken connective tissues.

Chemipower has developed its innovative gel in response to scientific research supporting its efficacy in the tendon, joint, and ligament health. CarnoSport delivers the optimal dosage of carnosine to the muscles pre- and post-exercise. This is the only supplement approved for legal pH buffering, protection against oxidative stress, and the formation of AGEs. 

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In conclusion

In conclusion, the key to injury-free running lies in embracing a proactive approach that incorporates targeted exercises and carnosine supplementation.

By strengthening the quadriceps through leg lifts, enhancing IT band flexibility with side leg raises, fortifying the gluteus muscles with hip thrusts, supporting the Achilles tendon and calves with heel drops, and improving ankle mobility through ankle circles, runners can create a robust foundation for their lower body. These exercises not only prevent common injuries but also contribute to a more stable and efficient running form.

In addition to these strategies, the potential benefits of carnosine supplementation cannot be overlooked. As discussed, carnosine has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, along with its role in supporting the overall resilience of the joints, tendons, and ligaments.

These simple strategies will make a powerful impact on your ability to enjoy running, whether casually or competitively by reducing the risk of injury. Remember, the most successful runners are those who not only train hard but also train smart, with a steadfast commitment to protecting their body’s natural capabilities. 

Further reading:

Carnosine – the best muscle recovery supplement

Post marathon recovery – regain your stride faster