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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director and Principal Physiotherapist