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Here’s the rub for runners: About half of you will get injured with five of the most common injuries—Achilles tendonitis, iliotibial band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, runner’s knee and shin splints.

But you can avoid these injuries by choosing the right shoes, doing the right preparation and listening to your body. Run pain free with these tips:

  1. Shin splints—inflammation of the muscles or tendons around your shinbone—are marked by pain along the inside or outside of your shins that you usually feel as you start a run. If you already have them: Ice the area and stretch your calf muscles. Skip your daily jogs until the pain eases. Prevent it: Increase distance slowly. If you have flat feet, you’re more prone to shin splints, talk to your doctor about orthotics.
  2. Pain near your kneecap that hurts more when you run downhill or go down steps is probably runner’s knee, an irritation of the cartilage located under your kneecap. If you already have it: Ice your knee for 10 to 15 minutes after a run. Don’t run on consecutive days, and cut your runs in half. Prevent it: Runner’s knee is linked to weak hip rotator muscles, so strengthen your outer hip muscles with side-lying leg lifts or clamshells (lie on your side with your knees bent; lift your top leg, keeping your heels together).
  3. Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the planta fascia, the band of connective tissue that gives your arch support. If you feel pain along the bottom of your foot near your heel, this is the likely cause. If you already have it: Roll the sole of your foot on a frozen water bottle. Prevent it: Give stilettos and flip-flops a rest.
  4. Pain along the back of your leg, near your heel, is Achilles tendonitis. This inflammation of the Achilles, the largest tendon in your body, is often caused by tight calf muscles. If you already have it: Don’t run. Give a low-impact activity, coupled with cross-training, a try for a few weeks. Prevent it: Build strength by rising up on the ball of your foot, and then slowly lowering for six counts. Do three sets of 12 to 15 reps per leg twice a day.
  5. Iliotibial band syndrome occurs when the iliotibial band, a tendon that runs from your hip to your knee becomes tight, typically from overuse. This creates tension on the fluid sacs located at your knee and hip joints, causing pain and swelling on the outside of your knee. If you already have it: Ice the area and stop running for a few weeks. Cycling or another low-impact activity is fine. Prevent it: Add strength-building exercises (think: hip raises) to your workouts. Use a foam roller on the sides of your hips to break up tissue adhesions.

This post appeared first on Black Health Matters.

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