Running Strong with Six Physio

By Sarah Turpin, Women’s Health Physio at Six Physio Chelsea.

Whether your a running pro or just starting out on the couch to 5km, strength training plays a key role in your development as a runner, helping to build muscle so your body effectively manages the demands of impact.

As you run your body is constantly absorbing and releasing forces to generate forward momentum. The muscles surrounding your joints assist in keeping your form and dynamic control with each running stride, however as you fatigue they become less efficient at managing load which can lead to changes in your running biomechanics, as well as a reduction in overall performance.

In the battle against injury, a runner’s best shield is strength and endurance, which can often be under-utilised in training. Your lower limb muscles, core stability, ligaments, and tendons all play a crucial part in managing forces during a run especially in the landing phase. By ensuring your muscles can continue to work optimally for longer, your more likely to be able to maintain power and overall running consistency.

Strength training is proven to reduce the risk of injury as it provides your body with the dynamic foundation to become a faster more efficient runner. This is because your speed is directly linked with the amount of force you are able to generate against the ground, as well as your ability to absorb forces to maintain your speed and keep running. Therefore its key component to in-corporate into a running programme, especially if your going to go the extra mile!

If you have recently had a baby you may be asking yourself ‘When is it ok to start running?’ In short, its very individual which is why seeing a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist is so important as they can tailor a bespoke post-natal programme especially for your recovery, lifestyle and fitness goals. The post natal body check teaches you specific post-natal exercises to improve pelvic stability, pelvic floor and core strength. These our all key components in order for you to return to running safely. You can book in for a postnatal MOT/body check with our Pelvic Health Team anytime from 6 weeks after your delivery.

Strength training should be started gradually so your body can become accustomed to recovery changes and then progressed on an individual basis. Check out the exercises below which will give you 6 examples of running inspired strength exercises, all targeted to those all important muscles. Aim to start approx. 3x a week and adapt for your specific training accordingly. The video’s show you how to perform the exercises below. As always keep the exercises in comfortable zones and work at your own level. If you want to find our more about how Physiotherapy can support your running journey get in touch with the Team at Six Physio.

Top 6 Running Exercises

1) Single Leg Control:

Stand on one leg with your hips straight and back in neutral, keeping your balance slowly lean forwards and hinge at the hips. Begin to bend the standing knee more as you lower down as comfortable, holding here for 1 second. Then return to the standing position and pick up your leg to 90 degrees at hip height and maintain this balance for a few seconds before repeating. Aim for 15x repetitions on each leg.

2) Side Plank with Running Drill:

In side-lying on your mat with your elbow bent. Think about lifting up and pushing the ground away, ribs cage flat and hips stacked up onto of each other, knees bent and feet inline with hips.

Breath in and as you breath out draw in your core and lift your hips away from the mat. Once here lift your top leg up to 90 degrees, extending it out before driving it back, as if your doing a running stride! Make sure as your moving your leg you keep everything else still. Aim for 15x repetitions on each side.

3) Shoulder Bridge Leg Lift:

Lying down on your mat, tilt your pelvis into the mat and peel up your spine into a shoulder bridge. Once here keep your hips level. Engage your core as you lift one leg up to 90 degrees while keeping the rest of the body still. Try to keep the movement smooth and controlled as you place your leg back on the ground. Immediately lifting the other leg as you repeat. Aim for 15x repetitions.

4) Resisted Hip Flexion:

Standing up, with a resistance band around both feet. Keeping your back in neutral and pelvis level. Breath in to prepare and as you breath out engage your core and lift up one leg to approx. 90 degrees. Ensure you don’t sway or change your posture as you create tension on the band and build up the resistance. Aim for 15x repetitions.

5) 4 point Running Hover:

In 4 point kneeling on your mat, with your back in neutral and shoulders away from your ears. Take a breath in, then as you breath out draw in your core muscles and lift up into your hover, so your knees are approx. 2-3 inch off the ground. Keep this position as you lift one leg up while the other stays still. The repeat on the other side. and continue to alternate between the two. Aim for 15x repetitions.

6) Forward-Backward Lunge:

Standing up, step back with one leg into a back wards lunge, keeping your upper body upright. From here lift your back leg up and into a forward lunge, keep your back in neutral and your chest high. Make sure you take your time and focus on good control. This exercise challenges your balance as you alternate between the forward and backward lunge. Aim for 15x repetitions on each leg.

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