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 / Updated  / Source: TODAY
By Amy Eley

Whether you're new to running or are a marathoner, the sport can come with a lot of questions. As part of our Run for TODAY series, Dr. Jordan Metzl stopped by TODAY to share his tips for common running woes experienced at every level.

How can I tell if I have an overuse injury?

Athletes often feel aches and pains, but if the pain is changing the way you move, it’s time to see a doctor.

Overuse injuries can happen in any sport and are easy to prevent. Stay healthy by making a training plan and sticking to it. If you miss a long run, don’t try and make up the miles later as running more miles the next week can lead to injury.

Is there a “right” way to run?

Everyone has their own stride, but here are a few tips for how to avoid an injury when running:

  • Be relaxed and comfortable.
  • When running the proper stride length, your feet should land directly underneath your body. Try counting your strides during your next run for 60 seconds. Your right foot should hit the ground 75 to 80 times per minute. By quickening your running step and taking short strides, you lesson the load on your feet.
  • Make sure your midfoot or forefoot (the ball of your foot) lands first with each step.

How can I tell if I have shin splints?

The most common symptom of shin splints is an ache on the inside of your lower legs. This progressive achiness in the shins can turn into a stress fracture if you’re not careful.

Shin splints are often caused by your foot rolling into the middle when you are running or walking. Using an insert or a properly-fitted shoe, you can unload the inside part of your foot’s arch to relieve some of the stress on your shins.

How can I prevent muscle cramps?

Most people think muscle cramps are due to dehydration, but it’s often a lack of salt. If you’re going to run for more than an hour, you have to think about boosting your electrolytes. Salty foods like pretzels, high-sodium sports drinks or even dill pickle juice are easy fixes.

How can I tell if I have a stress fracture?

If you have one specific spot that is sore to the touch, or if you’re in so much pain that you need to adjust your form, consult with a doctor right away.