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Running: improving performance and reducing injury with strengthening part II

running

Last week I told you a bit about why we might use strengthening to improve performance and reduce injury rates in runners, this week I’ll be elaborating on what exercises you can do and why they might be beneficial.

Essentially you want a program that will target the muscle groups you use in running and that follow similar movement patterns to running. Compound (multi-joint) exercises are also preferred as they will encourage more neuromuscular adaptations. For these reasons exercises such as: dead lifts, squats, lunges and calf raises would be a great starting point for a runner. They all require multiple muscle groups working together and focus on: hip and knee extension (straightening) and ankle plantarflexion (pushing your foot down) which are the movements we do to propel our body forward as we run.

However, while these are a great starting point, an often-neglected muscle group is our soleus. The soleus is a part of your calf and does its work when the knee is bent. While the other major muscle groups in your legs absorb between 1.5 to 6 times your body weight while we run, the soleus takes between 6.5 to 8 times your weight!

So basically, the soleus is working overtime and most people barely train it at all! While a tricky muscle to train it can be achieved through seated calf raises and tip-toe walking with bent knees. Pick a challenging weight and dosage to work with and you should feel a burn in the lower half of your calf muscle.

This blog was written by David our physiotherapist at Health Space Clinics. You can find him at our Rozelle and Burwood clinics and if you would like to make an appointment please call us at 9810 8769.

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