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Running is one of the best and worst exercises you can do for your body. In terms of aerobics, literally no other exercise beats a workout. Yet, for the muscles and bones, running—particularly on hard surfaces—can cause terrible damage. Even for all of its benefits to the heart, muscles, and psyche, the possible injuries can be particularly problematic.
So, are there ways to prevent running injuries? Absolutely.
First, we need to absolutely start with ensuring that you are stretching and improving your flexibility. The more flexible the muscles, the lower the chance you have of injuring yourself while running. This is largely because the more flexible the muscles are, the more the joints are able to move in their full range of motion. On top of this, pulled muscles are one of the most common running injuries out there. Make sure that you stretch after a 10 minute warm up, holding the stretches for at least 30 seconds.
Second, make sure that you stay hydrated! Dehydrated muscles are prone to tightening up, which commonly manifests itself in either pulled muscles or Charlie-horses. Prior to a workout or competition, make sure that you drink at least 16-20 ounces of water, 8-10 ounces after your warm-up and during stretches, and after you are done, replace it with a drink that has electrolytes such as Gatorade.
As I have hinted at in the above two solutions to prevent running injury, it really is a good idea to both warm up and warm down following a run. Over the course of the day or night, lactic acid builds up, which can cause additional locking of the muscles and injury in the long run. A simple warm-up clears this lactic acid and, when it builds up again during the run, the warm-down can help clear it out as well.
Finally, it may be a good idea to include a strength training regimen with the running schedule. Strength training can build the strength of body, which lessens the muscle fatigue that can lead to injuries. Lifting weights two to three times a week can help build this strength, and there are numerous strength training workouts on online specifically for runners!
While there are other ways to prevent running injuries, these are the most beneficial to your overall health. A good diet, water, stretching, etc. can help maintain those muscles during a run, allowing you to go longer injury-free.