I have been seeing a lot of posts on social media lately about runners struggling with various types of nagging injuries and inflammation. Most of these people I don’t know personally, but the common theme besides the injury itself is twofold: they don’t know what to do to fix/heal this issue and they don’t know where they went wrong in the first place or how to prevent the issue from popping up again in the future. I would like to shed some light to folks who may be in a situation like this.
To start, I am not a Physical Therapist and whenever anyone is in pain I will always refer out. So, if you are currently in pain - find yourself a reputable PT and start there. A lot of things could have happened to get you into an issue, with the most common being the following: Biomechanics/movement pattern issues, overuse/over-training, lack of strength/resiliency in the core and primary muscles used. Running coaches to improve form and the right shoes are important, however, I believe that concurrent strength training is an even larger factor to building durability and resiliency as a runner. This seems to be the #1 thing missing in most runner’s programs and will solve a majority of the issues above when combined with having a knowledgeable coach.
Strength training will help you as a runner because it allows you to build muscle in the areas that will complement your running program, improve motor control and core stability, and in general give you greater balance in line with your function. A lot of the “cross-training” that I see runners doing online are planks, crunches, and more planks…not exactly a balanced program.
Here is what a balanced strength program for runners could consist of: Core strength improvement through various isometric holds such as plank/side plank variations, glute bridge variations, etc. Improving the squatting and hinging movement patterns and upper body pushing/pulling strength. And finally, having an emphasis on Single-Arm/Single-Leg exercises to help correct muscular imbalance and provide increased opportunity to improve balance/stability. Of course, every individual is different and a detailed up-front assessment should be performed to provide a starting point and specific emphasis for an exercise program.
Implementing a balanced and individualized strength program into your running routine is a surefire way to help correct imbalances that may have led you to injury/inflammation and prevent any such issues in the future. Also important is that you have a coach that can balance the volume of both your running and strength training program to optimize your training for maximum results and prevent over-training. It’s a great thing to have someone in your corner who can challenge and support you, and hold back the reins when necessary!
Here at OPEX Fitness Hooksett, we work with people with varying goals and abilities to help them see long-term progression in their health and fitness. If you have a running background and/or goals based around running, we would love to work with you!