We have had numerous clients over the years come to us with concerns about running injuries. They lift weights, do sprints, bike and swim in addition to their regular running regimen in order to cross-train and prevent injury. But even with all of the work they put in, they still find that sometimes that just isn’t enough to prevent injuries.
It is common for runners to focus on developing the larger muscles such as the quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings and sometimes neglect the smaller muscles. This is usually where we see the highest concentration of injuries. The large muscles are helpful in moving the body forward during running, but the smaller muscles provide balance and stability. Ideally, we like to see more even development of these muscle groups in order to prevent injury and improve performance.
You can also strengthen other muscle groups that will provide additional support and strength. We're about to give you the top 5 exercises you can do to help prevent common running injuries and make you race-day ready.
Runners, especially those who run for extended periods of time, often complain about pain or stiffness in their hip flexors. A reverse tabletop move stretches the hip flexors and allows for relief of this pain. This move also strengthens the upper hamstrings which aids in balance.
Don't be intimidated by planking. It's not something that only professional athletes can accomplish. Planks are great for so many reasons, mainly because they help strengthen your entire core and increase overall stability in one move.
Another member of the Plank family is the side plank. Side planks focus more on strengthening the sides of your abdominal muscles as well as your gluteus medius and minimus. Side planks are also a wonderful way to get a complete stretch through the entire length of each side of your body, helping to alleviate any stress or tension in your muscles.
Prone Leg Scissor
This move is similar to "the superman", however, when you add the scissor aspect to the move you get an excellent workout for your inner thighs. The prone leg scissor strengthens the glutes and lower back and also is an amazing stretch for your abdominals.
If there ever was an exercise that helped ease the stress of running, the toe squat is it. The vastus medialis obliquus or VMO is located just above the knee. Toe squats help strengthen the VMO. If the muscle that runs along the outside of your leg from your hip to your knee cap becomes too tight due to extensive running, it can cause your knee cap to become displaced. A strong VMO also helps keep your knee cap in its appropriate place.
Stretching and strengthening all the muscles of your body, not just the ones you primarily use for running, is an excellent way to not only prevent injury but also better your athletic performance. It is a wise investment to spend some time away from the track and on the yoga mat instead. Foam rollers are another tool that can be utilized to relieve pain and tightness from muscles and joints. Be sure to ask your doctor, trainer, or physical therapist about using foam rollers in addition to your already established stretching regimen.