Strength training is a non-negotiable when it comes to running
From those completing a ‘couch to 5k’ to London marathon runners to those running in the grueling challenge of Marathon Des Sables: no matter what the distance, runners all have something in common:
Running and the energy required to propel forwards.
Running is a fantastic exercise for all with a wide range of benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, increased endurance, and enhanced mental well-being; you just need to strap on your shoes and get out of the door. With marathon season in full swing, both those who are new to running and those who are old timers need to follow the same principles to ensure success and prevent injury. Running means something different to everyone, for some there is just a want to get outside, move and clear the head and to others there is a strong focus on hitting a new personal best; the one similarity is the need to follow exactly the same principles to ensure injury prevention.
Why do we all need to consider running performance?
A commonly asked question to a physiotherapist:
I only run a 5K one-two times a week. Why am I injured?
Running is a repetitive activity placing stress on the body. The force demanded on a body while running is largely dependent on several factors such as body weight, speed, running technique and the surface being run on. Tightness and pain often occur when the force demanded exceeds the body’s ability to tolerate this demand. Therefore, the lesser the amount of times one runs does not mean that they can then be immune to injury.
Strength training is an important foundation for running performance.
We need to consider:
1. Absolute strength: the ability to lift heavier weights.
2. Power: the ability to produce a lot of force quickly.
3. Durability: the ability to withstand running without injury.
4. Neuromuscular coordination: improving stride efficiency and coordination.
5. Maximal oxygen update of VO2 max
6. Neural recruitment pattern changes: recruitment of musculature more resistant to fatigue.
The most crucial part of a run is the heel strike and toe off where biomechanics have to be at their optimum. With most of the gait pattern with running being unilateral we have to consider this when building a strength programme.
An emphasis on compound exercises is mostly beneficial in running. These are exercises which involve multiple joints and muscle groups i.e.: lunges, squats and deadlifts. An aim here is to control weight through multiple planes increasing the level of strength proficiency and body awareness, leading to improved mobility, balance and speed.
A new study found that runners became stronger after doing six weeks of eccentric strength training. This tactic, which entails slowing down the lengthening phase of a movement, puts greater stress on muscles to help them grow more powerful and resilient.
Remember to always listen to your body and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your runs to avoid injury.
Suffering with a niggle? Do not ignore it.
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