There should be no doubt that strength training can be beneficial in improving running performance and reducing your risk of injury. But, many people do not know where to start. What are the best exercises to do for runners? Here are some of our favorites.
Your calves and achilles tendon can take a beating from pushing off with every step, so calf raises can build some resilience against achilles tendonitis, calf strains, and even plantar fasciitis.
Improve your calf raises by elevating your toes. This will allow your heels to drop lower and get a stretch at the bottom, working the full range of motion of the calves.
The glutes are the bigger engine that helps us to propel ourselves forward. Being able to get our leg further behind us will improve efficiency because it will allow you to use more momentum to swing your leg forward. Letting momentum bring your leg forward will also take a lot of stress off your hip flexors.
Keep the feet planted a hips width apart, have your shins vertical at the top of the movement, and drive the knees out to the side a bit.
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat (RFESS)
Lunge (or split squat) variations are one of our go to recommendations for runners. You get the benefits of glute and quad strengthening and single leg stability. It also works on mobility of the trailing leg, since elevating it will increase the demand for hip extension mobility.
You should maintain a neutral arch in the spine, avoiding overextending. It is okay to let the trunk lean forward some. Keep the knee tracking over the 2nd toe.
Single Leg Deadlift
Another one of my favorite single leg exercises is the single leg deadlift. This works primarily on glute strength and single leg stability. It can also help with some active hamstring mobility if done properly.
The shin should stay pretty vertical and the hips should travel back. I prefer to place one weight in the opposite hand, but you could also do the other hand or both hands at the same time.
Specific core training is a good thing to add in, but we do not need to do a ton of isolated exercises. Many people don’t realize that doing things like single leg deadlifts and squats also train the core. But, for runners I like to throw in the dead bug exercise. It requires you to move the arms and legs reciprocally (opposite arm and leg), just like when walking and running.
Key points to focus on are not allowing the low back to arch, it should stay pretty flat to the floor.
If you want more tips on running pain free, then check out our free “7 Guidelines for Running Pain Free”! Just click the link below.