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What's a good exercise to help avoid knee pain, shin splints and other ailments when starting to train for races?

Apr 23, 2013

Alex Mueller
FT Lake Forest

"Foam rolling your IT bands is the single most effective injury prevention task.  That's helped me finish three marathons and four triathlons, including Ironman. It saves both your knees and hips."

Kris Dixon
FT Auburn

"I would say that most runners encounter knee pain throughout the course of their running career.  However, most of this pain is actually caused by poor training at the beginning of their career. With simple exercises like resistance band abduction and adduction, wall sits and body weight squats strengthening of the knee can be accomplished and therefore reduce the risk of injury substantially.

"I think another common mistake in the avid runner is that they do little or no resistance training and solely focus on the cardio aspect of running. Runners should use resistance training to increase the endurance and strength of their muscles so that they can be made even more efficient during training.

"The final and main thing that I would do to prevent knee pain is stretch, stretch, stretch. Stretching will keep the muscles around the knee more lax and therefore keep pressure off of the joint. It will also prevent the inflexibility of the runner’s gait which would have the potential to disturb the knee joint as well."

Vanessa Ocasio
FT Auburn

"Practice strength training a couple of times a week, mainly focusing on lower body and core exercises.  Hire a personal trainer even if just for a couple of weeks to teach you the proper form of these exercises; otherwise you may make your condition worse.

"Perform deep squats -- slightly below 90 degrees -- to strengthen your overall leg musculature as well as increase hamstring flexibility.  Include some traditional deadlifts to engage your lower back and glutes a bit more and provide overall lower body balance.

"For core focus perform bird dogs, planks, side planks, and side-to-side movements such as Russian twists.  You may be wondering how working on your core will help you get rid of knee pain.  A weak core will fatigue faster and will contribute to improper running form such as slouching.  Slouching shifts the way the pounding on the ground is received by your muscles and joints, making your running more inefficient and your body prone to injury.

"Finally, cross train.  Use an elliptical machine in between running days.  If you have access to a pool, even better.  You can run in the pool to work on your strength and endurance, while sparing your joints from any impact and allow time for healing."

Maria Pasquale
FT Medford

"Foam rolling, band work, deep hip stretches, and seated calf raises! You also need to train stride length and stride frequency."

Erin Jackson
FT Great Neck

"If you have shin splints or knee pain it's a good idea to run on softer surfaces (grass) whenever possible when starting training. Eventually and gradually move to harder surfaces. You can try to strengthen your calf and ankle to prevent foot pronation that has a tendency to be common in runners with shin splints.

"Also, shoes make a big difference. They don't have to cost a fortune, but they do need to fit your running style. Some shoe stores will watch you run and give you suggestions.

"If you're recovering from shin splints or knee pain try low-impact cardio and ice injuries on a regular basis. Don't let temporary injuries get you down.  Keep your eyes on the prize!"


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