How Smart Runners Prevent Injury

These moves reduce your risk of lower-body strains.

Studies suggest that up to 79 percent of runners get injured at some point. Since those who have gotten hurt in the past are at a higher risk of getting the same injury again, prevention needs to take top priority. 

You can avoid the imbalances and misalignment that contribute to strains by strengthening the calves and the muscles surrounding the knees and hips. Strong outer-hip muscles, for example, keep the knee from caving in when your foot lands.

The below moves target the quads, hamstrings, calves, and hip abductors. Incorporate them into your regular routine or perform them together as a standalone strength session (do 1 to 3 sets of each exercise) two or three times per week.

Barbell Deadlift
Load a barbell with moderate or heavy weight, using bumper plates if possible. Stand with feet hip-width apart, your shoelaces under the bar. Without bending your knees, grab the bar right outside your knees. Bend your knees to bring your shins to the bar. Without lifting the bar, pull yourself up and away from the bar to lengthen your spine. Maintain this long spine. Drag the bar up the leg to stand completely vertical. Hinge the hips back to drag the bar back down the leg, just below the knees. Bend the knees to set the bar down to the floor. Repeat. Do 12 to 20 reps.

Calf and Ankle Challenge
Sit with legs extended in front of you, your left knee bent and left foot flat, palms flat on the floor. Secure the end of a band around something solid, like the base of a machine, and loop around ankle and top of your right foot. Lift and rest your right calf on the handle of a kettlebell. Slowly flex your foot (bring toes toward knee), then point. Repeat for one minute. Switch legs and repeat. 

Plank Band Hip Abduction
Wrap a resistance band around your ankles, then get into plank position with your hands beneath your shoulders and your feet close together. Jump your feet out wider than shoulder-width, then jump them back to start to complete one rep. Do 15 to 30 reps.