Strength Training for Distance Runners – The 3 Key Benefits
Hi guys Brad here, POGO Physio founder and also Author of the soon to be released “You Can Run Injury Free – A Physio’s 5 Step Guide to Injury Free and Faster Running”.
I am just coming to you this afternoon from my front deck here on the Gold Coast and just wanted to share with you some quick thoughts regarding the importance of strength training for your running. Most runners are very aware of their need to stretch or indeed foam roll. There are a few runners that wouldn’t confess or state that they regularly stretch or roll around on the floor on their foam roller however, one of the biggest oversights that I feel most runners and indeed triathletes make is that they place strength or stability training second behind stretching. One of the ironies of that is that not only are they cutting their potentials short by not getting the strength training done, more on that in a moment, but they are also as a result putting the horse before the cart if you like.
So let me explain, strength training is so key because it has three effects on our running. The three effects are that your Strength training primes the pump or in techy terms the neuro muscular firing of our body’s structures and this happens before we even contact the ground with our feet when we run. So as we are about to come in and land on our left foot or our right foot the body is already pre-empting what is going to happen and strength training has been shown to improve those neuro muscular reflexes such that when we do land and strike the ground what occurs is a beautifully orchestrated set of muscle activations that both brake the fall and absorb the energy as we strike the ground which is two to three times the body weight before these other muscles then propel us off onto the next step. So strength training helps to prime those muscles and make them and the reflexes more efficient and that’s key.
The other thing that strength training does that is so important to runners is that it minimises injury risk and the reduction in injury risk comes as a result of the efficiency and better power of these muscles to absorb the ground reaction forces that are shunted back up the leg as we land on them when we run. So the stronger and more engaged the muscles are as we land the less chance there are of these ground reaction forces being deleterious in over loading the body and creating injury. Lastly, strength training is being shown to be effective to runners because strength exercises just makes us more efficient. Efficiency and economy are the same term and what it means is that for a given speed of running we are able to run faster and for longer for the same energy cost. Strength training builds endurance in key muscles that will stabilise a runners body and as a result we have better economy through our running technique.
In another post I will share about which muscles are in particular important for strength training for runners so look out for that one. In the meantime know that strength exercise should be a key part of every runners program. Don’t just clock up the kilometres and stretch or foam roll make sure you find time for strength exercises. If you need some ideas on good strength exercises then jump over to my YouTube channel Brad Beer Physio. Just search for that in YouTube and you will see a whole range of different exercises I have uploaded over the last 12 months.
Hope that is of some assistance guys and happy running. Until next time have a great week. Bye for now.
Yours in Running,
Brad Beer (APAM)
Author ‘You CAN Run Pain Free!’
Founder POGO Physio