Archive: May 8, 2016

Run Fit 5 – Essential Strength: 5 simple strength exercises every runner should do #runfit5

Running is fantastic. It is one of the most efficient ways to exercise and it’s also great for blowing off steam and managing stress. You don’t need a gym membership or any expensive equipment. What you do need is good strength and control throughout your body.


Running puts high demand on your lower limbs. Every time you go for a run they provide shock absorption, stability and drive thousands of times over. A failure to appreciate this quite often leads to overuse injuries in runners.


The following 5 exercises really work on lower limb strength, control and endurance to allow the muscles in your legs to work better for longer while you run. This ultimately means less injuries and improved performance.


  1. Hamstring Bridging

This really works your hamstrings and glut max, which are essential to driving you forward with running.

Start with your heels on the ball and your hips and knees bent at 90º. Slowly lift your hips up without letting the ball move away (i.e. don’t straighten you knees).

Running strength Exercise - Bridging 1. Bespoke Physiotherapy Covent Garden London Running strength Exercise - Bridging 2. Bespoke Physiotherapy Covent Garden London


  1. Step Ups

Great work for Quads, gluts as prime movers and Glut med and min as stabilisers.

Try and keep your pelvis level and keep the centre of your kneecap over your 3rd toe to maintain good alignment with this one. Make sure you really drive up tall when stepping up and keep control when coming back down.

Running strength Exercise - Step Up 1. Bespoke Physiotherapy Covent Garden London Running strength Exercise - Step Up 2. Bespoke Physiotherapy Covent Garden London


  1. Wall External Rotation

Really hones in on Glut med and Min to improve hip control.

Stand next to a wall, bend the hip and knee closest to the wall and place your foot behind your standing knee, which should be slightly bent. Hold that position while pushing the knee of the non-grounded leg into the wall. Hold for 30+ seconds and you will get an almighty burn in your Gluts.

Running Strength Exercise Bespoke Physiotherapy Covent Garden


  1. Single Leg Squats

Another great functional exercise that uses all of the muscles worked in running, in a controlled environment.

As with the step ups, keep your pelvis level and the centre of your kneecap over your 3rd toe to maintain good alignment. Do this one in super slow motion and don’t go too deep.

Running strength Exercise - Single Leg Squat. Bespoke Physiotherapy Covent Garden London


  1. Single Leg Balance

Fantastic for building control and endurance throughout the whole leg, and so easy to do!

Stand on one leg with the knee slightly bent and stay as still as possible for as long as possible, up to a minute. You can use a Bosu Ball at the Gym or a cushion at home if you want make it harder. Other good progressions include closing your eyes or throwing and catching a ball.

Running strength Exercise - Single Leg Balance. Bespoke Physiotherapy Covent Garden London

The key to all of these exercises is how you do them. In themselves they are very basic but done correctly they make a huge difference. Concentrate on good technique, form and control throughout the exercise. Do them nice and slowly to really get a good burn and Stop for a rest when you start to lose form. If you can, do these in front of a mirror to check your alignment and see what is happening with your hips, knees, ankles and feet.


To get a thorough assessment of your lower limb biomechanics and expert guidance on how to build your strength in tandem with your running programme, click HERE to book an appointment with Bespoke Physiotherapy in Covent Garden.


Also check out the rest of our Run Fit 5 series for more great injury prevention and rehabilitation insights.


Another great resource is the website of our runfit network partner in Australia, InClinicPhysiotherapy.


If you have any questions you would like to ask me or the team directly, feel free to drop me a line at


Jon Castle

Director and Principal Physiotherapist

Bespoke Physiotherapy

Run Fit 5 – Golden rules: Maximising performance and preventing injury in runners

As simple as running seems, going for your Sunday jog requires an incredibly complex interaction of different body systems. The body is such an amazing machine that it does all of this automatically, so that you can get out there and burn what it is you need to burn (calories, stress, energy).


In order to maintain this harmony we do need to help our bodies out and understand a few basic principles. Today we are going to go through the 5 most important principles to maximising performance and preventing injuries in runners.

 1. Start Low and Slow

What this means is that, if you are just starting out with running, your first runs should be slow in pace and short in distance. Your body needs time to establish a good base in terms of technique, cardiovascular fitness and lower limb control. Once this has occurred then build up your programme in a graduated manner. Many people have come unstuck by building up their miles and pace too quickly. This also applies to established runners who are increasing their miles and training. Things that your body will absorb over 5-10km will come to head if you start running 12+km. Gradual progression allows your body to consolidate gains in strength, control and cardiovascular fitness to provide a solid base for further progression.


2. Never change 2 variable factors at one time

This relates to our previous point regarding gradual progression. During any given run, don’t try and run faster and further. This will outstrip your body’s ability to deal with the loads placed on it and therefore will increase the likelihood of overuse injuries. In practical terms this means focusing on distance for certain runs and pace for others (e.g. a long run and an interval run).


3. Have rest Days!

Rest days are essential. Your body needs to recover from your previous run (at least partially) before you run again. You should be having at least 2 rest days per week if you are a regular runner, and if you are starting out or returning after injury, rest for at least 48 hours between runs.


4. Incorporate cross training

Rest days don’t necessarily mean sitting around on the couch (although it is very important to incorporate some of these into any running programme). Use your rest days to cross train. Cycle, swim, gym and complete the runfit5 Strength exercises! You can also include Yoga and Pilates to help your running.


5. Run to a programme

Having a set programme is key to tying all of these points together. It also really helps with motivation. There are many great training programmes out there for everyone from first time runners to those doing their 20th ultra-marathon. Make sure you look for the above principals in any programme you might want to use. Also look at joining a club. Most running clubs have a ton of very experienced runners who are happy to help with anything from technique to running programmes. Joining a club also adds motivation and a social aspect to a sport that can otherwise be very individual.


The experienced team at Bespoke Physiotherapy in Covent Garden specialise in the prevention and treatment of running injuries. So if you need an expert running assessment and individualised care, BOOK NOW for an initial assessment.


Make sure you arm yourself with the knowledge to get the most out of your running by exploring the rest of our runfit5 series and visiting the site of our runfit network partners inclinicphysiotherapy.


To talk to our team directly or learn more about Physiotherapy and running please contact us. You can also follow us on Facebook, instagram and Twitter.


Until next time, happy running!


Jon Castle

Director and Principal Physiotherapist

Bespoke Physiotherapy