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5 Strength Exercises For Running

5 Strength Exercises For Running

Written by Kieren Jamieson - Osteopath | 5th January 2022

I, like many people during the world’s longest lockdown, turned to distance running for my physical and mental health. Running is great for improving your cardiovascular health, strengthening your legs, giving you energy throughout the day and making you feel great. As well as long lockdowns, the New Year often brings an influx of running related injuries into our clinic, as New Year’s resolutions come into full swing.

Why do we need strength for running?

Running is quite demanding on the lower body, with up to 3-4 times your bodyweight going through your legs each step! People often fall in love with running, and do too much, too quickly which can result in foot, achilles/calf, knee, and/or hip/glute pain, just to name a few.

Strength training improves running economy and time to exhaustion during distance running and reduces the likelihood of injury. There are some strength benchmarks we should all strive for to limit the likelihood of injuring ourselves. So, before runners get to the point of pain, it would be beneficial to assess strength of the muscles in the leg and build strength where it is needed. Although these benchmarks do not guarantee pain-free, injury-free running, they can be a good starting point. These exercises can be utilised in conjunction with our previous blog: Anna’s experience with running during lockdown - which includes a guide on stretching for running, to put yourself on the front foot.

Try these 5 strength exercises!

1. Single leg calf raise

  • Perform 30 reps each leg
  • The calf muscles must handle a lot of force while running, with the soleus muscle being seen as the most important muscle in propulsion (walking/jogging/running)
  • Start a metronome at 60 bpm, and one rep should take two seconds, one second up, one second down.
Calf raise1
Calf raise2

2. Bent knee calf raise

  • Perform 30 reps each leg
  • Having the knee bent during a calf raise targets that beautiful deep calf muscle, the soleus
  • Start a metronome at 60 bpm, and one rep should take two seconds, one second up, one second down.

3. Single leg gluteal bridge

  • Perform 20 reps each side
  • This exercise strengthens the glutes and the hamstrings, which help stabilise the hips while running

4. Isometric lunge hold

  • Hold for 30 seconds each side
  • An isometric lunge hold is simply getting into the bottom of a lunge and holding your knee 3 cm off the ground with your hands on your hips. Feel the burn.

5. Side plank

  • Perform 20 reps each side
  • This is a great exercise for the muscles on the outside of your hips, which help stabilise the hips and pelvis.

If any of these exercises are too easy, hold a weight to challenge yourself. A milk bottle, a small child, a small dog, a spare brick or two. Maybe try putting some books in a backpack.

As well as strength gains, we should incorporate some low-level jumping/hopping into your training program, as running is essentially single leg hopping over and over.

These are some goals to aim for. If they are not achievable for you yet, book in with one of our team at CHH and we can set an exercise/management plan to get you ready to run so you can smash your New Year’s resolution!

Kieren Jamieson is an Osteopath that works at Canterbury Health Hub. He is available on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Click here to learn more about Kieren. Book online or call (03) 9836 3688 for an appointment with Kieren.

Tags: running, exercise