Running season is upon us! But as your motivation to go outside and be more active is a good thing - going into a running program, without proper preparation and planning, is not. Running is a dynamic, complex movement, including hundreds of thousands of strides in just one run. Even if you’re not looking to set new PRs (personal records) or be the first to finish your race, and instead just wanting to avoid injury and be able to sustain a full running season, we’ve put together some exercises and drills that will hopefully complement your runs.
It should be noted that even the most strict and competitive runners incorporate some form of resistance training. This may be curious to some, as if you’re wanting to get faster and run longer, “why would I do weight training?” Well, literature actually shows that resistance training is crucial to:
- preventing injury,
- strengthening connective tissue,
- improved coordination/motor control/reactive capabilities, and
- overall running economy.
All these factors contribute to helping you stay healthy and reach your running goals!
Here is a summary of each exercise and set-up:
Foot and toe sensory exercise:
Time to wake up the feet! First, engage the tripod: this is the heel, head of the big toe and head of the pinky toe. Activating this will help with holding the arch and overall foot control and mechanics. Push these three points into the ground. Next, try extending (lifting up) your big toe while the keeping the other toes flat. Then, try the opposite: lift up your little toes while keeping your big toe down. All the while maintaining the tripod position! It’s more difficult than you think.
Banded hip marches:
Tight hip flexors? Maybe they’re just tight from being weak. Start by finding a box about 6 inches to a foot off the ground. Then find a theraband and place around the mid-foot, lay down and abdominally breathe into the stomach and pressurize your core. Next, you will do a hip bridge, keeping a neutral spine and lifting your hips off the ground while your feet are on the box. “March” with the band, brining one leg to 90 degrees while the other stabilizes on the box, and maintain this position at a controlled pace.
Let’s start to get in applicable positions for running. Begin by facing parallel to the wall, with the outside foot about half a foot from the wall. Bring the leg closest to the wall into a flexed position and press into the wall. The outside foot should be stabilizing with proper foot support with the tripod listed earlier. Hinge at the hips, and push outward with the stabilizing leg, all the while maintaining pressure into the wall. Can add in toe drills or other progressions with band or external resistance as needed.
TRX Runner's Lunge
Combining all our drills into one! With proper foot support from exercise one, neutral spine + hip flexion from exercise two and running stance from exercise three, we can progress to the TRX to add some asymmetrical and balance benefit. Begin by placing the foot in the strap (the length of the strap should be about a foot or so off the ground but is dependent and variable person-to-person on size). Control the descent into a lunge position, not quite letting the knee touch the ground, while maintaining balance and proper foot placement.
Keep in mind, these exercises are vague recommendations that the general running population could benefit from, but a more thorough assessment on what YOU need to improve may be needed. If this applies to you or you are in pain, contact us and make an appointment!