A Physiotherapist's Guide to Training for Running - Part 2
Strength & Conditioning
I have highlighted the importance of strength and conditioning training in previous articles. There are many ways to get started with this aspect of training, and the good thing is a lot can be performed as home exercises with minimal equipment. While a gym might be seen as the best environment to do your strength training, the right set up at home can work quite effectively.
I recommend a number of exercises which require no equipment, and these can easily be progressed with the addition of a resistance exercise band, a weight and a wobbleboard / balance pod.
To get started why not have a go at these exercises and see how you get on….
Exercises for Runners
Single leg squat to heel raise
Description: Balance on one leg. Do not allow your legs to rest against each other. Keeping your balance, bend your stance knee a little, then straighten. Rise up on to your toes, lifting your heel off the floor, then lower back down to the floor and repeat. Try 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each side
Benefits: This is an excellent exercise to work on your balance whilst also strengthening your calf and quadricep muscles. Good balance is a key feature of good run form.
Single leg bridge
Description: Start by lying on your back with the hips raised off the floor and body supported by the upper back and feet. Lift one leg and straighten at the knee. Keep the leg aligned with the trunk. Do not let the pelvis sag down to the side. Hold this position, then switch legs without lowering the hips, continue on switching over between legs. Advanced techniques include placing the arms overhead and the heels further from the body when commencing the exercise. Try 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each side
Benefits: A great gluteal exercise to work on improving your stability around the pelvis.
Description: Stand on one leg with the opposite leg extended behind you. Tighten the abdominal and leg muscles as you hinge forward at the waist and raise the back leg. Keep your body and leg in line with one another. Steadily return to start position. Try 2 sets of 10 repetitions on each side.
Benefits: This exercise works on eccentric control of the hamstring muscles at the back of the thigh. Eccentric activity is when the muscles control the movement as they lengthen. This makes the muscle work harder to control the motion as it lengthens. Another great exercise for balance and movement control as well.
Side plank hip abduction
Description: Lie on your side with your legs straight. Place your top foot in front of your bottom foot on the floor. Lift yourself up on your side using the lower arm with the hand on the floor. Your hips will come up off the floor until your body is a straight line from your head to your feet. Lift your upper arm directly up so that it is in a vertical position. Maintaining control with your body, lift your top leg up and down. Do not allow your body to sink or wobble too much. If this action is too challenging try doing it with your lower knee resting on the floor. Try 2 sets of 10 repetitions on each side.
Benefits: This is a really challenging exercise getting the whole body to work out. It promotes strength through your gluteus medius and minimus muscles, which are important pelvic stability muscles.
Single leg squat with running arms
Description: Stand up straight balancing on one leg. Keeping your heel on the ground bend your leg ensuring your knee travels directly forwards over your little toe. Push your hips back behind you while simultaneously swinging the opposite arm to your stance leg forwards. Your other arm should swing back. You should lean forwards a little. Ensure you keep your back straight if you do this. Straighten back up fully, and repeat the movement. Try 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each side.
Benefits: This is a great exercise to replicate a large part of the running action, so develops good posture and form.
Hop to alternate leg
Description: Stand on one leg with your other hip elevated at 90 degrees. Spring up off the floor, landing softly on your other leg, and the first leg elevated to 90 degrees. Control your balance before you hop back to the initial leg and repeat. Try 2 sets of 10 repetitions on each side.
Benefits: This exercise starts to get you to work on the plyometric aspects of training, which are important for running. Plyometrics are exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time (i.e. hopping / jumping). You will also work on balance as you do this exercise.
It is always recommended to seek the advice of an experience run specialist Physiotherapist to prescribe the best exercises for you individually and to practice them with you to ensure you are performing them correctly.
If you have any queries after reading this, then why not book a Remote Physiotherapy Consultation with me by clicking here. I also offer Run screening assessments which are an excellent way to review your body and reduce your risk of injury.
Look out for further articles of mine on running. These will include why now is the perfect time to start marathon training and what to do to prevent injury or if an injury occurs.
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