Love running but plagued by injury? The answer lies in strength training, even if you really don’t want to believe it.
Kiwi running experts Mat Lewisham and Kelly Sheerin say every runner should be completing a strength programme alongside their running to minimise the chances of injury.
The most common injuries seen in runners include plantar fasciitis, achilles pain, chronic calf issues, knee problems, shin splints and ITB syndrome.
Preventing injury is the first step in becoming a better runner and the key to spending more time doing what you love.
Sheerin, specialist running physiotherapist and director of Auckland University of Technology Sports Performance Clinics, says runners are usually people who love repetition, love running and shy away from other forms of exercise. While this focus and determination can be the key to success in distance running, it can also be a major barrier to training properly.
About 35 to 75 per cent of runners will experience at least one injury a year. That’s time off running, and time spent on the couch.
Lewisham is a qualified personal trainer, ultra-marathon runner and Dream It running trainer who works with people of all skill levels to see them achieve their goals.
He says repetitive motion, like running, will cause injuries to flare up.
“Strength increases your chance of being successful,” he says. “You’ll be a faster runner too.”
If you’re just starting running, perhaps doing a Couch to 5k app, you should include basic strength work in your session. Walk quickly to warm up, then do some simple exercises like hip raises, squats and lunges. Then run. He says you’ll see muscle results within four to eight week, which is less time than your average nine week running course.
If you’re an experienced runner with an injury, stop running. Convincing runners to take time out from training can be tough, so Lewisham recommends a different programme of exercise while the injury heals. Hit the gym for your strength work and include a class to keep your cardio up – he recommends spin, which offers interval training to work the body and is great for runners.
A combination of injury-appropriate strength work and cardio will keep you in shape until you heal, minimising the impact on your running training. Lewisham says runners should work on their glutes and core muscles to improve running technique. The core is essential for maintaining good running posture and taking strain off the body.
Injuries come from two main causes: repetition or overuse and improper strengthening of necessary muscles. Sheerin says the problem with runners is they tend to thrive on routine and repetition, running the same routes, at the same speed, in the same shoes.
Dealing with overuse is simple. Run different routes and include hills or inclines and different surfaces. Change your shoes often (switch between pairs) and vary your speed.
When it comes to strength, running is very good at strengthening certain muscles, but ignores some that are vital for running. He says the two main muscle groups that need strengthening are your glutes and your calves.
Sheerin recommends doing body weight and band exercises to strengthen your glutes, and skipping, hopping and jumping to strengthen calf muscles.
He strongly recommends asking expert advice before creating your own strengthening programme as doing the right thing first time will save you heartache down the track, especially if you’re already injured.
“If you want to prevent injuries, making sure you’re strong and stable is that first step,” he says.
Originally posted stuff.co.nz June 21st, 2016.
For further information regarding the prevention and management of running pain and injury contact Jubilee for an appointment.