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How Runners and Athletes Can Avoid Lower Limb Injuries

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If you regularly run or jog or are very athletic and active, you may be concerned with how to protect your legs from being injured. Pulled or torn muscles and other soft tissue injuries can mean weeks of being off your feet, if not the require surgery and other such treatment. To prevent this, note a few ways that runners and athletes can avoid these injuries as much as possible, and remember to discuss these with your doctor, physical therapist, or other healthcare professional if you need more information.

Be careful of when and how you stretch

Most athletes and runners will stretch their muscles before they start their routine or hit the track, but you need to be careful about stretching. If you overstretch and especially if your muscles are still cold, you could actually cause an injury. Think of a rubber band being put in the freezer and then trying to stretch it; chances are it will just break. Your muscles work in the same way, so it's often good to do a slight warm-up first, before stretching, and then ensure you don't try to challenge yourself with very deep stretching that your body isn't ready to face. Work your way up to more challenging yoga poses or stretches rather than trying to force your body into positions that may simply hurt your muscles.

Cross-train to build muscles

If you perform the same movement repeatedly, you'll build muscles in the same area of your body. When you're on the field or the track, your body may rely on other muscles to keep you upright or better supported, but you may not have developed them very well. Cross-training can address this; if you run, try tennis on occasion. The stops and starts of the game will help train your leg muscles. If you play tennis, be sure you do aerobics at your gym to work leg muscles you would otherwise neglect. Whatever your favorite activity, be sure you're doing something different so you get maximum benefit.

Check your shoes

Don't wait until your shoes have holes before you replace them; the bottom tread is very important for providing cushioning and support, so you need new shoes when this tread shows any type of wear. Never buy shoes that are too tight and assume you'll "break them in," as the pressure they put on your feet in order to soften the rubber can cause injury, calluses, and bunions. Invest in high-quality shoes that fit in order to protect your ankles, knees, hips, and even your back from impact-related injuries.