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  • Emily Peaker

Injury Prevention Tips: Strengthening Exercises for Runners

Running offers a unique blend of enjoyment and relaxation, making it a hobby enjoyed by many people around the world. However, with the repetitive nature of running comes the risk of overuse injuries, such as shin splints, IT band syndrome, and runner's knee. Fortunately, incorporating strengthening exercises into your routine can help prevent these injuries and keep you running strong. Here are some ideas of what exercises you can do to help prevent those injuries from happening. 


1. Squats

Squats are a fundamental lower body exercise that targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves—muscles essential for powering your runs and maintaining proper biomechanics. Start with bodyweight squats and gradually progress to weighted variations as you build strength and confidence. 


2. Single-Leg Exercises

Single-leg exercises like single-leg squats, step-ups, and Bulgarian split squats are particularly beneficial for runners, as they mimic the unilateral nature of running and help correct asymmetries. These exercises improve stability, balance, and proprioception while targeting the muscles of the hips, thighs, and calves.


3. Calf Raises

Strong calves are essential for absorbing shock and propelling you forward during running. Calf raises target the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles of the calf, helping prevent injuries such as Achilles tendonitis and calf strains. Perform both seated and standing calf raises to target different muscle fibers.


4. Glute Bridges

Glute bridges activate the gluteal muscles, which play a crucial role in hip stability, pelvic alignment, and power during running. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground, tuck your pelvis under, then lift your hips towards the ceiling while squeezing your glutes. Hold for a few seconds before lowering back down.


5. Core Exercises

A strong core is essential for maintaining proper running form and stability, reducing the risk of injuries such as lower back pain and IT band syndrome. Incorporate exercises like dead bugs, Russian twists, and bird dogs to target the abdominals, obliques, and lower back muscles.


6. Plyometric Exercises

Plyometric exercises, such as jump squats, box jumps, and lateral bounds, help improve power, speed, and neuromuscular coordination—qualities that are beneficial for runners looking to increase their performance and reduce the risk of injury. Start with low-intensity plyometrics and gradually progress as your strength and technique improve.


7. Proprioceptive Exercises

Proprioceptive exercises are key in runners maintaining their balance and stability during their run. Exercises such as standing on a wobble board, air disc or bosu ball assist in improving proprioception. 


While all strength exercises are important in runners it is also important to ensure that they remain relaxed and lengthened. This is also to reduce the risk of an injury and to ensure that they are working at their peak capacity. It is vital that all runners foam roll and stretch before and after exercise.


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