Below are some of the top strength exercises that will help improve your running performance and help to prevent injury.
Squat and Deadlift– These are compound movements they will help you improve your tolerance to heavier loads. When running, the ground reaction force is exponentially increased, so being able to handle heavier loads is important. Posterior chain strength is very important. This will help you maintain proper form during your run as well as improve efficiency, which we all know is huge.
Leg extensions- This is a quad isolation exercise that will build not only quad strength, but patellar tendon resilience. This protects the knee and improves eccentric control – Upon landing, the knee has to be able to contract well eccentrically to absorb ground reaction force.
Leg Curl- This is a hamstring isolation exercise. Hamstrings fire concentrically and eccentrically while running. Performing these bilaterally and unilaterally will help to protect your knee and maintain symmetry. This is an important aspect of acceleration and deceleration as well.
Heel raises – Straight (Gastroc) and Bent (soleus) – This is an often overlooked exercise. These are crucial for force production, shock absorption and stabilization. Utilizing these muscles correctly can prevent a lot of common running injuries.
Bulgarian Split Squat– Although an often hated exercise, these are great for Isolating glutes, improving single leg stability and trunk stability. If you need a modification, single leg leg-press or high box step ups can be substitutes.
Psoas march – This is important for hip flexor ROM and strength. It improves knee drive and facilitates midfoot landing vs heel strike.
Single leg stance working towards boxer shuffle / paloff– This improves symmetry, foot strength and control, and improves movement efficiency.
Single leg balance is a huge factor in running and a good measure of symmetry. Being able to use your intrinsic muscles in your foot for stability is vital. Once you have mastered single leg balance with good form for 30s, progress the single leg balance to a strength exercise by adding a band (paloff/anti-rotation) or jump (boxer shuffle) will improve your trunk stability and ability to absorb force.
“I don’t run to add days to my life. I run to add life to my days.”
These exercises can be done as a single workout 2x/wk. They can drastically improve your running efficiency and help to decrease the stress through your joints which will likely decrease your chance of injury.
If you do not have a strength program and are confused as to why you are not making the progress, this is likely a big reason why. Give this routine a try! If you need help with sets/reps or form work on any of these, please reach out. We can make sure you are doing them correctly and getting the most out of the program.