In the third installment of our injury prevention series, we bring you a few more exercises to incorporate into your routine to help make you a stronger, less injury-prone runner. As a reminder or if you didn’t have the opportunity to read the other posts in this series (found here and here), weak glutes are a large contributor of injuries for runners, including runner’s knee, plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, and Iliotibial Band Syndrome. The gluteal muscles (maximus, minimus, and medius) are the primary movers of the legs, so if they are weak and not activated when running, other parts of the body overcompensate and an overuse injury is born. Even if you don’t have any aches and pains in your legs, glute strength is also important for stronger and faster running – the stronger you are, the longer you can maintain a faster pace, especially in the later stages of a race.
Luckily you don’t have to spend hours in the weight room to activate and strengthen those glutes. Spending just 15 minutes, 2-3x a week, performing a couple of targeted exercises will help ward off injury. Schedule them on your calendar so you’re more likely to complete them. If you can’t fit them in right before or after your run, do them while you’re cooking dinner or watching TV!
For the 2 moves below, complete 12 reps on each side and do 2-3 rounds. You can mix and match them with the exercises from the previous posts.
Start by standing up straight and feet shoulder width apart. Firmly ground one of your feet, with a slight bend in the knee. Slowly hinge at the waist, bringing one of your legs behind you and bringing your chest toward the ground until you are parallel to the ground. Slowly come back to standing keeping your form and repeat. Make sure your back stays flat, neck stays neutral, and the back leg is straight throughout the entire movement.
To add more resistance: hold a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells (do this only after your form is strong)
Get down on your hands and knees, with your back straight and neck in a neutral position. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders. Drawing in your abs and keeping your knee bent, start lifting one of your legs. Squeeze your glute to press your flexed foot up toward the ceiling, bringing your thigh parallel to the ground before coming back to the starting position. Make sure your hips stay square to the ground during the move. Complete 12 reps on one side before switching sides.
To add more resistance: loop a resistance tube around your foot and hold down with hand on the same side
Remember that just 15 minutes, 2-3x a week is all it takes to notice a difference! Putting in that time now will help you stay on the road later!
Tammy Whyte is the owner and head coach at TW Training and Wellness and is both a certified personal trainer (NASM) and certified running coach (RRCA). Her Tuesday Intervals + Core workouts are great for any level runner and incorporate strength exercises at the end of each workout. Check out more information and her other training programs at www.twtrainingwellness.com. Feel free to reach out with questions at [email protected]