Although runners are generally strong and have high cardiovascular and muscular endurance, it is common that runners present with specific muscle weaknesses that may often go unnoticed. A muscle weakness may certainly lead to further muscle imbalance and unnecessary increased loading and impact in certain joints. This may cause damage to the effected joints and surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments, especially if ignored.
The following exercises are basic, but very specific exercises targeted to strengthen those muscles that are prone to becoming weak in runners.
1. Hamstrings. The hamstrings are really important for controlling the leg as it comes forward to place the foot back on the floor. Lying face down with one knee bent up, lower the foot down towards the floor as slowly as possible. Adding weight or resistance will progress this exercise making it more difficult.
2. Gluteal muscles. Lie face down. Draw in your lower core, firmly clench buttock muscle. Lift the leg, keeping the knee straight, 10 cm from the floor. Hold for 10 seconds. Slowly lower the leg. Repeat 10 times each leg.
3. Core, hams, gluteals. Lying on your back with your knees bent and both feet flat on the floor, squeeze your bottom and push your hips/bottom up off the floor. Your shoulder, hips and knees should form a straight line. It’s important that you are not dropping your pelvis on one side, but you are keeping everything aligned and strong. To progress this exercise, try and lift one foot off the ground whilst keeping your pelvis level – remember to squeeze that bottom.
4. Hip Rotators. Lying on one side with both knees bent and legs together, keep the feet together while slowly lifting the top knee up, as high as you can without allowing your hip to roll backwards (this is a common compensatory movement). Hold the knee up for 10 seconds, and slowly lower the knee back down. Aim to repeat this 10 times.
5. Lower calf. Stand at the edge of a step with just the ball of your foot with the knee bent, drop the heel down into a lengthened position and then push back up as high as you can. Repeat until fatigued and then switch side.
6. Upper calf. Standing at the edge of a step with just the ball of your foot and the knee straight, drop the heel down into a lengthened position and then push back up as high as you can. Repeat until fatigued and switch side.
These exercises are really basic strengthening exercises targeted at those muscles that commonly become weak and problematic in runners. For those of you who manage these exercises wuite easily, the next step is to get advice on how to progress this program in order to optimise your performance and reduce injury risk. Contact us at Function360 if you wish to know more.