5 WAYS TO PRO­TECT JOINTS

Runner's World (UK) - - BODY+MIND -

SHORTEN YOUR STRIDE

‘An in­crease in stride rate by five to 10 per cent can re­duce patellofemoral joint load by up to 20 per cent,’ says Willy. Stride rates are in­di­vid­ual, but it’s rec­om­mended to aim for 160-190 steps per minute. Be care­ful not to change how your foot hits the ground. Shift­ing your foot strike can change the load on your Achilles ten­don.

CHECK YOUR ME­CHAN­ICS

Willy says it’s a good idea to have your run­ning form eval­u­ated if you suf­fer from joint pain – or want to pre­vent it. A physio can de­tect is­sues such as hip ad­duc­tion and over­strid­ing – and in­struct you on how to cor­rect them. In a study, Willy found that run­ners with knee pain who did eight gait-re­train­ing ses­sions had less knee pain when reeval­u­ated months later.

WATCH YOUR WEIGHT

Run­ners of­ten com­plain of more joint pains as they age and one rea­son is weight gain. Paul De­vita, di­rec­tor of the Biome­chan­ics Lab­o­ra­tory at East Carolina Univer­sity, US, has con­ducted re­search that links ex­cess weight with in­creased knee load – and in­jury risk – in run­ners. ‘Many of us are too heavy for our joints,’ says Spain.

RE­PLACE WORN SHOES

The ver­dict is still out on what footwear is best for re­duc­ing joint load. You need to find out what works best for you. When you get a new pair, it’s key to break them in with a few short runs be­fore go­ing long in them. ‘The ex­po­sure to a new shoe after be­ing in an old one could be a risk fac­tor for in­jury,’ says Pa­que­tte.

MIX IT UP

Chang­ing where and how loads are placed on joints may keep injuries at bay. ‘Run­ners who do the same thing ev­ery day are more at risk,’ says Willy. ‘Change the sur­face, your route and tempo, and cross-train. The more vari­able your move­ments, the less you stress your tis­sues.’

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