Nick Charlish
31 March , 2020
Strength training is widely recognised as a vital part of any running programme. It can build neuromuscular efficiency – the way in which your muscles sync and are recruited in groups; and the stamina of the muscles to help support good technique and form as you fatigue. It also has a huge injury prevention benefit as strengthening the muscles and tendons helps to protect against overload injuries (patella tendinopathy or achilles tendon issues) that can derail many running ambitions.

During this edition of our #stayathome series, we want to discuss the benefit of strength training and give you ways in which you can use this time to work on strengthening your legs to help support your running goals. To do this, we have broken the gait cycle into 3 components and cherry picked a few key exercises for each.

“….Strengthening the muscles and tendons helps to protect against overload injuries….”

Nick Charlish – Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist

Landing/impact

1. Alternating forward lunge

  1. Take a large step forward, land softly and lower into the position as shown
  2. Take care not to let the forward knee move forward past the toe, keeping it facing forward and not diving in
  3. Let the body lower until the knee is just above the ground
  4. Then push back up into a standing position

2. Eccentric quadriceps

  1. Start in a high kneeling position
  2. Slowly lower yourself backwards keeping in one line from knees to shoulders
  3. You should feel the tension in your thighs
  4. Get as close to your heels maintaining the proper posture, then use your thighs to bring yourself back to the start position

Stance

1. Glute medius wall push

  1. Standing a small step off a wall
  2. Get into a semi squat position and place the lower leg nearest to the wall on it as shown
  3. Then push the leg into the wall gently
  4. You should feel it in the side of the hip on the standing leg
  5. Hold each push for 10 seconds
2. Suitcase step up

  1. Hold a weight in one hand, find a small step
  2. Step up on the opposite leg as shown
Push off

1. Bulgarian split squat

  1. Place one foot back up on a chair
  2. Lower down making sure to keep a forward leaning position in the upper body
  3. The front leg should be taking most of the weight
2. Calf raises

  1. Using something for balance
  2. Push up on the toes trying to focus on going up, not forward
  3. Lower down and pause, don’t bounce
Knowing what exercise to do is important but, knowing how to do it is equally important. How we do each exercise or session will change what adaptation we are training. To improve tissue robustness and muscle capacity we need to practise the following:

  • Do the exercise at a low speed (2-3 seconds for each part of the movement with no holding at the end)
  • Use a low load (body weight or small dumbbell/weight)
  • Moderate to high volume (3 sets each for 60-90 seconds)
  • Ideally, do the session X3-5 per week

In other words, this is a session that is perfect to do at home with a very limited amount of equipment! If we consider that training adaptation is absolutely specific and that those parameters share equal importance with the exercise itself, then being at home without access to our usual fancy gym machines has much less of a detrimental effect than we may first think.

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