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24.11.2010

Get Strong to Prevent Common Running Injuries

Strength Training - the Key to Preventing Common Running Injuries


For most people the aim of any running event is simply to finish. Often crawling over the line in discomfort or agony is considered enough, particularly at longer distances such as the marathon. However with correct preparation even distances of 100 miles can be completed in relative comfort.

It’s essential to keep the long runs for aerobic endurance. However, varied intensity training as well as resistance training, benefits the runner. High intensity running develops the body’s ability to manage difficult terrain, as well as long ascents and descents. And in order for the legs to move the body along as well as for the body to stabilize itself, being strong is critical.

Strength and strength endurance are critical for running in order to have power in the stride and to overcome the terrain, distance and repeated ascents, descents etc. Strength and strength endurance must be developed for the body to cope well. Much of running is spent on one-leg, and on uneven ground, so stability is also critical.

This does not mean runners need to become solid and beefy weightlifters. Far from it, however there are benefits of weight training in stabilizing the knee, hip, ankle and low back – often places where runners experience pain and injury. Simple resistance exercises with relatively low weights, is sufficient to build the required strength.

For stability, your body must be strong enough to comfortably control bodyweight plus 10kg, in all directions, and in unstable environments. Once this is achieved, this is a good basis from which to develop strength endurance.

Stabilization of the spine, pelvis and knee begins in the abdominals. Excellent strength endurance here is vital. Whilst the abdominals do not require the strength of a wrestler, they need to be able to endure hours of repetitive activity, controlling the runner’s bodyweight and the weight of the legs swinging underneath. Often with good control and strength here, many of the niggles that plague runners (IT band syndrome, runners knee, achilles niggles, and back pain) soon reduce and even disappear. As these symptoms reduce, running form and efficiency of movement also increase.

Strength and strength endurance is also significant in delaying muscle fatigue. A strong set of prime movers increases the ability to store glycogen. The cells also become more efficient in energy use and this will postpone muscle fatigue. Lactate threshold also increases, which will assist with recovery, and this is the key to being able to run up hills well.

Running need not be uncomfortable and certainly needn’t leave you with joint pain. There’s a lot more to it than simply popping out for a run. Using simple resistance training methods and adding some intensity training can improve comfort, reduce injury and improve running performance.

By Rob Cousins BPsyc, CHEK Ex Coach, REPs


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