For years I've caught a bad rap from the running community over some of my opinions, so today Im here to clear the air and show runners that there are ways to run safely while avoiding injury. I think running is good for all humans, do I think running long slow distances (LSD) 7 days a week is good? No! But going out for a nice jog definitely has its mental benefits the same way pressing heavy barbells over my head helps me stay relaxed.
A mentor of mine Mike Boyle once said, "Don't run to get into shape, get into shape to run". I couldn't agree more with this statement, but what do most people do? They get the idea to start getting into shape and they take off running, they run harder and faster everyday and in many cases their bodies aren't ready for that amount of road work and they wind up getting hurt and back on the couch. No $300 dollar show can stop the thousands of compression forces that your joints are going to take while running, the only thing to do to ward off (or at least decreases the risk) of injury is to lift weights and make your body bullet proof.
Too much running can lead to overuse (chronic) injuries like shin splints, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis and patellar tendentious just to name a few. However, by lifting weights properly you can make the joints strong and stable which will allow them to take the constant beating that running is going to put on them. Many runners lack glute strength and are very quad dominant which causes muscular imbalances and this will cause compensatory patterns during their runs which means injuries are not far behind.
Below is a list of my 6 favorite exercises for runners to do if they're looking to run longer, faster and with less risk of getting injured...
This first exercise is a DUMBBELL DEAD LIFT. The reason I'm using a DB is because many of you may not have access to Kettle Bells, Barbells and Hex Bars. SImply hinge at your hips, sitting your butt down and back, keeping your shoulders back and pick up the DB. This is the ultimate glute exercise and will strengthen your entire posterior chain. Dead Lifts may be the ultimate exercise to do for overall strength and body composition change.
This second exercise is a SINGLE LEG STRAIGHT LEG DEAD LIFT. Running is done one leg at a time, you are always on one leg or the other so this exercise is great to work your glutes, hamstrings, adductors and abductors while training unilaterally. These are tough to grasp the first couple of times you try them but trust me, they work! All of my runners have benefitted from these over the years.
This third exercise is a GLUTE BRIDGE WITH BAND ABDUCTION STIMULUS. This works the glutes well and by having the band around the knees it forces the glute medius and minimus to work harder because they have to fight the feeling of being pulled into adduction, so they abduct while you extend the hips. This method is called RNT (reactive neuromuscular training). Definitely a great "warm up" exercise!
This forth exercise is an X BAND WALK. X band walks are very deceiving, they really work the abductors and will give you a nasty glute burn when done properly. They're also a great frontal plane exercise and will help lateral movement. Notice how I keep my feet apart, you want to avoid full adduction or the band will get too tight and the exercise wont be done properly.
This fifth exercise is a REVERSE SLIDER LUNGE. Notice how JoJo drives her leg down and back decreasing the sheer forces on the knee joint. This is another great unilateral exercise that will fire up all the muscles in the hip. You can really load this up after you progress properly of-course. By dragging your back leg through you make this more of a hip dominant (glute/hammy) exercise oppose to a knee dominant (quad/hip flexor) exercise.
This sixth exercise is an ECCENTRIC HAMSTRING FALL. A quick warning: This will cause excessive soreness and probably charlie horses if you don't work your way up to these. Having said that this may be the best exercise to do for anyone looking for strong, functional hamstrings (runner or not). This shows us the true function of the hamstring which is eccentric deceleration. The hamstring, if working well decelerates the knee in ambulation (walking), jogging or sprinting. These can really make you a better runner and decrease the risk of any type of knee injury. Give these a shot if you dare!
My list of these 6 exercises above was limited to only lower body but I am a strong believer in training the entire body to maximize your running potential. Exercises like Inverted Rows, Pull Ups, Push Ups, Over head Press and Carries will all carry over and help make you bullet proof!
I hope you guys enjoyed my list of exercises to make you a more efficient and healthy runner. Remember, these are my opinions and things that I've been doing for years with clients that have shown great results time and time again...