January 2017 has come and gone, along with many of those New Year resolutions to get fit. However, we have been pleased by the number of runners out and about who continue to clock up the miles. Our bodies have been designed to run very efficiently but modern lifestyles and shoe technologies can reduce our efficiency as well as explain many of the injuries that runners commonly experience. Whether you are a novice runner or a seasoned racer here are our Top 7 strength exercises to improve your performance and injury prevention:
1. Neutral Feet & Posture
There’s no better place to start than right at the bottom by getting your feet working how they are supposed to. Standing properly and learning live without shoes that have a significant heel drop will strengthen the muscles of your feet, glutes and core turning your lower limb into the powerful spring that it’s deigned to be.
5-6 times per day. Get into position and brace then take down the intensity to 20% and try to hold as you go about your daily business. 2.
Mini Band Lateral Step
Modern lifestyles promote poor posture and movement control as they promote too much sitting down. The likelihood is that your glutes aren’t providing the stability that they should every time your foot strikes. Invest regular time waking up your glutes so that you can unleash their unrivalled power during your runs. Cheap and easy to use, you can pack them in your travel bag so there are no excuses! Be sure to keep tension on the band throughout and avoid letting the knee’s collapse inside the line of the feet.
Done properly this gets even the strongest of athletes. Start with 2 sets of 8-10 steps each way and build it gradually up to 4 rounds over time. Doing more than 4 sets may fatigue your glutes too much for some of the other important strength work.
3. Mini Band Squats
Miniband squats will promote good movement control of hip extension during your running stride. Place the miniband around the knees to provide an added stimulus for your glutes to do their job.
Loading: 2 – 4 sets of 10-12 reps should leave the lower body feeling right at home.
4. Side Plank
A weak core will leak power during every stride. We feel that a regular forward facing plank can sometimes mask imbalances between dominant and non dominant sides which is why we prefer the side variants. A stronger core will improve the transfer of landing and driving forces as well as minimise the amount of energy lost in rotation of the upper body when running.
2 sets of 30-60s on each side will be enough to target these muscles so that they make a difference.
5. Eccentric Single Leg Squat
Every foot strike creates large forces through the lower limb. Your hip and knee joints need to be strong enough to absorb these forces and maintain the support leg in a stable position as well as providing the power to keep moving you forward. Our muscles can produce more force when they are lengthening so even if you cannot perform a complete single leg squat, you should be able to perform the downward action first.
Depending upon your training history, strength and control these can be an intense exercise. If you’re a novice then start with 2 sets of 3-5, whereas experienced athletes can perform up to 4 sets of 12. Once confident with lowering, try to stand up using just the working leg.
6. Step Up
Strengthening for running should contain a good number of hip dominant exercises. The step up is great for promoting the simultaneous extension of the hip and knee joint. Be sure to focus on preventing the knee collapsing inwards during both the upward and downward phases.
2-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions. Leave your lead leg on the step to increase the time under tension.
7. Horizontal Jump
Continuing the theme of coping with the stress of impact, jump training should feature in every runners programme. Jump training is great for preparing the nerves, muscles and bones responsible for controlling landing forces.
Loading:Go easy at first by starting with 2 sets of 6 reps. You can build this to 4 sets of 8 reps over time.