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Why is Strength Training Important for Runners?

Why is Strength Training Important for Runners?


Strength training has become a more and more important component of running training. It is now seen as one of the biggest factors that will impact on your speed, endurance and overall performance. However, many runners avoid strength training for fear that they will experience muscle soreness, loss of flexibility and increased muscle bulk, therefore slowing them down. If a strength program is followed correctly, this should not happen.

Strength training is the ideal complement to a runner’s training plan. Twice a week you should have cross training days. One of the most beneficial things about strength training is the influence it has on injury rate and recovery. Runners tend to experience extremely high injury rates, with many runners sustaining an injury more than once a year. This is due to the fact that improving muscle strength improves structural weaknesses in your body e.g of the muscles, joints or connective tissues. This often eliminates the source of many running injuries.

Strength training also improves core strength and overall stability. This allows runners to maintain the correct form when running, even when fatigued, making them more efficient when running. A strong core also prevents overload of joints such as hips, knees and ankles, therefore further reducing the injury risk. Core exercises may include holding a front/side plank, mountain climbers, supermans or bridging.

Strength Training Improvement

Improving overall leg strength will also assist in making you a faster runner. Increased strength improves your efficiency, allowing you to impart more force into the ground and propel yourself along.

Runners should focus on targeting the key muscles that will keep them balanced such as gluts, hamstring, quads and core. Running specific exercises such as single leg squatting, single leg deadlifts and lunges help increase stability during the stance phase of running by keeping the pelvis level.

When trying to choose strengthening exercises, think of compound, multi-joint exercises rather than training specific muscles. This includes exercises such as squat press, kettle bell swings, deadlifts and lunge rotations. These exercises target functional movements that we do every day, and specially activate muscles we use when running.

When beginning your exercise program, all of these exercises can be performed using just body weight. This prevents soreness. Gradual, progressive overload by increasing weight and reps will help progress your strength without causing muscle damage and soreness. Allow yourself an adaptation time of 4-6 weeks before increasing intensity with weight or reps, just as you would with running mileage.

If you have a running related injury, or have been experiencing repetitive strains or niggles, contact us here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic. Our physiotherapists can assess you to determine possible causes of these injuries, and prescribe a tailored strengthening program to prevent ongoing injuries.

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