What we’ll cover
  1. Why is strength training important in running?
  2. What muscles are important for running?
  3. What exercises are good for running?
  4. How can physiotherapy help my running?

Does strength training help with running?

Have you recently picked up running during isolation? Have you noticed a niggly knee or niggly hip? Are you looking to safely increase your running distances?

For many of us, our running has increased or even become a new form of exercise throughout COVID-19. It is a form of exercise that requires no equipment and practically can fit in to a busy schedule. Not only does running have numerous physical benefits, it has has been shown to positively influence your mental health.

However, whilst running is great for cardiovascular health, it doesn’t provide adequate strength and resistance. Not only is strength training important for our general health and fitness, it has been shown to actually assist and improve running. In this blog, our physiotherapist Vernon Mittal investigates whether strength training helps with running.

Why is strength training important in running?

Evidence backs up the notion that strength training is critical for improving running performance and reducing the risk of injury. In fact, it has been shown that incorporating strength training as part of your running program can actually increase your running speed.

Running economy (RE), in other words, how much energy the body needs to use to run at a certain pace has been shown to positively improve with strength training. This is because it improves lower limb neuromuscular coordination by co-activating muscles. As a result, it increases muscle stiffness meaning a reduction in ground reaction times (i.e. more spring in your step).

Interestingly, strength training has been shown to increase type-I (slow twitch) and type-II (fast twitch) fibres meaning your body requires less muscle activation to produce a force; i.e. your body saves energy! When your body saves energy and is not exerting much stress, the chances of injury reduce. When you run, your brain alters its recruitment of muscles in that it will call upon more fatigue-resistant muscle fibres, saving you energy and improving your RE!

In terms of how frequently you should strength train, vast scientific studies have had positive results in running performance when training is completed 2 – 3 times per week for at least six weeks.

Putting aside all the scientific jargon, strength training stiffens your muscles, improves your coordination and makes you a more efficient runner. It makes you more resilient.

What muscles are important for running?

Whilst many of us consider running to be a lower body exercise, efficient and effective running actually incorporates many muscle groups.

It goes without saying that a strong lower body is important for running. It is important to build strength, endurance and power in your lower body to allow you to propel you forwards throughout your run. These primary muscle groups include your gluteal muscles, calves and quadriceps.

When running, your core is crucial to support your spine. Your core and abdominal muscles support your spine. In addition, these muscle groups are critical to allow your lower and upper limb to work in sync. This results in your running being as efficient and as smooth as possible.

The upper limb and arms are often forgotten in many runner’s strength programs. Arm movement and arm drive is important part of running bio-mechanics. In fact, improving arm drive during running is actually a great way to improve running efficiency and increase speed.

What exercises are good for running?

It can be intimidating if you are not sure where to start with a strength program. Depending on your running goals, strength training can be performed using equipment or even your body weight.

Great exercises to include in your running strength program include:

  1. Squats
  2. Lunges
  3. Calf raises
  4. Push ups or bench press
  5. Dumbbell row
  6. Single-leg deadlift/arabesque
  7. Step ups
  8. Back extension exercises

How can physiotherapy help my running?

Physiotherapists are well placed to assess where to start with your strengthening program. By performing a thorough assessment, your physiotherapist is able to identify any specific muscle imbalances or weaknesses that may increase your likelihood of injury.

Our team at Malvern East Physiotherapy have a range of services to injury proof your running. This includes our thorough running assessment and our specific strength training program for runners.

If you are unsure where to start with building a strength program for your running, contact our team today or book online

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Back to school 🔙📚

Last week we were fortunate enough to head back to uni and refresh our anatomy knowledge at @latrobeuni in the anatomy labs. 

Thank you to the Latrobe School of Physiotherapy for inviting us! Last week our team celebrated another great year. 

Whilst Melbourne’s weather had its own plans, we were still determined to keep with the theme of ‘Italian Summer’. We let our hair down to master the art of mixology 🍸🍹followed by an Italian feast. Friday morning Run Club with the team. Practicing what we preach!

Staying stronger, healthier and happier. This time last week, our team was nervously completing their final preparations for @melbmara . 

Congratulations to our physiotherapists and ME community who ran on the day.

Dilen and Michael completed their first marathons. Abbey and Lizzie smashed out their first half. Last Sunday, our team headed down to see our own Matt Warren win a premiership in the VAFA Premier Men’s Competition. Last week our team dedicated a full day to professional development and team building. At ME Physio we pride ourselves on collaboration to put you at the centre of everything we do. 

Our team covered the latest treatments for back pain, financial well-being and finished off the day with salsa dancing. 

Many thanks to our guests including James Schomburgk from @the2ndvisitphysio , Financial Planners Tony Vikram & Cameron Bishop and the @salsafoundation At ME Physio, our focus is on helping you get stronger so that you can keep doing the things you love.

For Tony and Joan, healthier and stronger is being able to navigate the iconic Coast to Coast Walk in the UK! We recently had the pleasure of hosting Elise Bujor from Women’s & Men’s Health Physiotherapy to discuss women’s health issues across the lifespan. 

Our team pride themselves on staying up to date to ensure you’re able to stay healthier, happier and stronger. Huge milestones over the past few weeks with both Tom and Jude from @delasallefc doing their first bit of running in their rehab. 

Tom is on the return from an ankle dislocation whilst Jude is putting in the hard work following a knee reconstruction. Last week our team enjoyed some friendly rivalry at the footy. 

With finals around the corner, some of our team can now safely make holidays plans for September. We recently had the pleasure of hosting the podiatry team from @sespodiatry. 

Our physiotherapists Michael and Abbey presented on rehabilitation following Achilles surgical repair and ankle surgery. Last weekend some of our team got together to complete the 10 km run @runmelbourne. There was no finish line picture as some were keen to run another 15 km!

Whilst running wasn’t for some - brunch was well received by everyone.

You Deserve to Feel Good.

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