by Mia Thomas, PT, DPT
Through practice and life I have found that runners are some of the most resistant to recognizing injuries and taking action about recovering from them. It stinks to have to decrease your mileage due to injuries, but it is also not worth pushing through as those extra miles are what is going to stop you in your tracks.
If you are an avid runner or are starting to prepare for your first big race it is important to know that you can prevent running injuries by incorporating strengthening exercises into your work out routine, or cross-train. Know that you may be at higher risk for injury if you have had previous injuries to your hips, knees, or feet, if you run more than 6 races a year, you run more than 25-40 miles a week, you have a high BMI, have been running less than 3 years, or use an shoe orthotic or insert. If you have any of the above risk factors cross training will be even more important for you to prevent injuries.
Runners typically get injuries that are due to overuse, so the most important thing to remember when strengthening is that you need to perform repetitions for endurance. This does not mean doing the typical 3 sets of 15 repetitions as you may only take 30 seconds or less to perform those and your run is definitely going to last longer than that. Time to rethink endurance strengthening, try making one repetition 1-2 minutes long and do 3 sets of that!
Some of the largest muscle groups that you will want to focus on include the intrinsic muscles of the foot, the glutes, and the core. Strengthening these muscle groups can not only prevent injury, but can also improve your speed, and your efficiency. Below are some of the most effective gluteal, core, and arch strengthening exercises.
Arch of Foot:
- Single leg stance on BOSU ball
- Three way touchdown
- Doming or bridging of the foot
- Single leg squat with rotation
- Clam shells (4)
- Reverse step ups