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Running injury prevention products (and cheaper DIY alternatives)

With a marathon on my fall schedule, injury prevention has been on my mind. I’m trying to do everything in my power to stay healthy from now until the big day.

I’m following these rules of staying injury-free. But when I went to search for my foam roller this past weekend, I couldn’t find it. I assume it was accidentally tossed during our move late last year. So, I started looking for a new one only to discover there are a lot more injury prevention products on the market now than when I bought my foam roller five years ago.

A few fancy items caught my eye. It’d be great to invest in all of these items, but if you can’t swing it, there are also some more affordable alternatives out there:

Trigger point massage balls, such as the TP Factor Massage Ball, looks like the best frenemy of tight muscles. The ball is designed to mimic the pressure of a person’s forearm. Use it anywhere on the body to relieve sore and painful muscles.

Alternative: A tennis ball will also do the trick. I sit on a tennis ball to help my tight glutes and piriformis and it hurts so good.

shin splint sleeve or frozen corn/peas/ice pack

Shin Splint Sleeve. It looks like a brace, but this sleeve delivers compression and ice therapy directly to sore shins. This is an excellent way to prevent and treat shin splints.

Alternative: Soft, flexible ice packs – or even bags of frozen corn or peas – can easily be draped over shins too.

Pro-Tec Ice Up vs paper cup with waterIce Up Portable Ice Massager. This small, portable ice stick cooler lets you apply ice therapy anywhere on your body. The cooler keeps ice cool for up to 12 hours so you can have it waiting for you after a race.

Alternative: Take 3 oz. paper cups, fill them with water, and freeze them. When you take them out of the freezer, peel off the top third of the cup all the way around. There will be ice sticking out of the cup. Use the ice in a cup to deliver an ice massage anywhere that’s sore on your body.

foot log vs water bottle

FootLog. This foot massager was designed to relieve the pain associated with plantar fasciitis, but it looks like a treat for all tired, sore runners’ feet. It’s said to improve circulation and ease aches and pains.

Alternative: Take a full plastic water bottle and place it in the freezer until frozen. Lay the frozen water bottle down on the floor and roll your feet over it for an ice massage.


Kinesio tape such as KT tape. If you’ve run a race lately, you’ve likely seen other runners wearing kinesio tape. This therapeutic tape is applied along ligaments, muscles, and tendons to offer lightweight support so you can continue to run pain-free while dealing with minor injuries.

Alternative: Rest. Taking time off at the first sign of an injury can help keep a minor injury from turning into a major problem down the road.

What are your favorite injury prevention products? I don’t think anything will ever beat the foam roller for me, and a lot of runners swear by compression socks.

Written by Jen Matz.

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