Are you a runner? Do you strength train? All too often the answer to this is no. If you are continuously running without the fundamental strength that your body needs to support you while running then you may be setting yourself up for injury.
Why Strength Train for Running?
Sure you’re an avid runner, knock out a very respectable mileage each week, but have you also struggled with some sort of injury at some point? More than likely the answer is yes. As polled by Runners World, in one year as many as 66% of runners struggle with injury. So how can strength training help? Here’s 4 reason why incorporating strength training into your running program is a good idea:
- Correct Muscle Imbalances and Running Form
Muscles act in balances. In everyday life (such as sitting down for long periods of time) the body picks up muscle imbalances. If you’re constantly sitting down for long periods daily (let’s face it, most people are) your hip flexors are in a constant state of flexion. This means that your hip muscles become tight. This in turn weakens those muscles in opposition to that muscle group. In this example; the glutes. Runners commonly struggle with a lack of glute activation. What is known as synergistic muscle dominance takes over. Which basically means that inappropriate muscles take over the function that the glute should be doing itself. This leads to incorrect posture and form which will have a direct influence on your running technique.
Without strength training those glutes, the body can become weak, and the body is in imbalance. As Michael Fredericson, M.D., associate professor of sports medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine states: “Healthy running should be as symmetrical and fluid as possible. If you don’t have muscle balance, then you lose the symmetry, and that’s when you start having problems.” The hip and glute strength are two of the most important stabilizing muscles that are used while running (in addition to the core). Runner’s World (who let’s face it know a thing or two about running) combined a list of 10 laws of injury prevention, sighting strength training as a major factor. As explained “when you strengthen the hips—the abductors, adductors, and gluteus maximus—you increase your leg stability all the way down to the ankle” – thus improving your symmetry and in turn running form.
- Limit the Risk of Overuse Injuries
Just running and running with not a lot else going? I’ve been there: girl just loves to run right? Not only does this leave you susceptible to muscle imbalance related injuries but also leads to overuse injuries. Repeatedly stressing the same joints and muscles (which may already incidentally be imbalanced) causes the bodies tissues to breakdown and eventually lead to injury. As the Greatist states: “Bodyweight routines can help you recover from running while still building the strength needed to help prevent future overuse injuries.”
- Performance Improvements
So you want to get better at running? So you just need to run more right? What about those overuse injury problems that we mentioned? Going beyond your physical capabilities too fast will lead to inevitable injury. By preparing the body through strength training (in addition to running) it allows the body to adapt and better receive increases in activity. As Runners World suggest “If you are a serious runner and would like to run faster or farther you need greater strength endurance.” They conclude that even doing just one hip strengthening exercise will increase your running performance. Doing even more running related strength training will increase your running performance dramatically. Running strengthening examples such as those seen in Deborah Warner’s (Founder of Mile High Run Club, New York) workout for Self Magazine “Be A Better Runner workout”,
- Overall Fitness Improvement
Strength training will improve your overall fitness. Your body works hard to get you through your strength training regime. When strength training is done in a circuit fashion it doubles up as a cardio workout. Why not kill two birds with one stone? As Livestrong explains, “when you perform aerobic exercises (like running), your body keeps burning calories for a short time after you finish your workout. When you perform strength-training exercises like weightlifting, you permanently boost your calorie-burning capacity by increasing your body’s supply of muscle tissue.”
Running Specific Strength Training
Why not get started on your running strength training today by checking out Deborah Warner’s “Be A Better Runner Workout” for Self Magazine. If you’re in New York City you can also check out her Mile High Run Club studio solely dedicated to running and running strength training.
What are you waiting for? Up your running ante – see you at the weight rack!
Sending health & happiness,