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Strength Training: A Critical Training Component For Runners.

Attention seasoned, novice, and curious runners, this is your reminder to prioritize strength workouts as part of your training routine. We know that running injuries are common, and my goal is to help you prevent them. A critical component to help prevent injury while gaining mileage is adding strength training into your routine. While there are many causes of running-related injuries, the most common are overuse, over-training, and decreased strength to support the demands of running. Most of us know that it is essential to strength train, but we may miss the critical components of translating the benefits of strength training into our running.

Let's break down running into its three main phases: 1: Flight or float: this moment is what defines running from walking; we have a moment with no contact with the ground.

2: Shock absorption: this is the landing phase, where our front leg makes contact with the ground.

3: Power generation: this is the push-off phase where we translate the energy stored from absorption to propel our body forward and off the ground.

As a single leg activity, we require significant strength to control phases 2 and 3 of running; we can improve our shock absorption and power push-off performance by focusing on strength. Specific strength training improves our neuromuscular activation: our brain-body connection and the control of our limbs, which helps us improve our form. Strength training also improves our power output: becoming more explosive to improve our running efficiency. As runners, the focus of our strength training should be to improve the phases of running by the following:

  • Improving balance and stability in single-leg positions.

  • Activating the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, calves).

  • Becoming more efficient with dynamic and explosive movements.

By improving performance in the above areas, we will inherently work to decrease our risk of injury. How do we improve the phases of running to become safer and more efficient runners? There are no "best" or "one size fits all" approaches to strength training, as the ideal program should be tailored to your body's unique and individualized needs. However, these are a few of my favorite exercises that any runner could benefit from integrating into their strength training routine. Check out our Instagram @outsidemovementpt for performance tips!

Reverse lunge to march:

  • Standing: step backward into a lunge and pull knee forward and up into a march.

  • Progress by holding a kettlebell/dumbbell to add load or make it dynamic by adding a jump at the top.

Single leg Romanian deadlift:

  • Standing on one foot, holding a kettlebell/dumbbell in both hands, hinge forward lowering your hands and trunk towards the ground, try to maintain a straight line from your head to your toe as you lift your rear leg, return to standing by activating glutes, and hamstrings of the standing leg.

Single-leg lateral step down:

  • Standing on a box, step stool, or a stair, lower the outside leg towards the ground, performing a mini single leg squat; the goal is to maintain level hips and keep your knee tracking over your midfoot.

  • Progress by holding a weight to add external load!

Single-leg heel raise two ways:

  • Standing on one leg at a wall or using a post for balance: perform 8-12 reps of heel raises with your knee straight, bend the knee and continue 8-12 more reps of heel raise with the knee bent.

  • Progress by holding a weight to add external load!

Squat jumps:

  • As challenging and straightforward as they sound, lower into a squat, drive the knees gently outward and jump, control the landing by aiming to land "quietly" directly into a squat, and repeat!

  • Progression: lunge jumps!

I recommend performing these movements 2-3 days per week (on non-running days) and performing 8-12 reps (per side) of each movement for 2-3 rounds.

If you have specific questions about improving your running or strength training routines, reach out, we are here to help.

Run well, Nicole

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