We’re continuing our injury prevention series with a few more exercises that will help to make you a stronger, less injury-prone runner. A weak core, which includes the glutes and surrounding muscles, often results in injury. Weak glutes specifically are a large contributor for injuries down the chain, 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. The last post in this series had four exercises to try, and we’ll be adding two new exercises each month for you to mix into your routine.
If you’re just starting out, focus on your form and getting into the routine of completing them 2-3x/week. Once you’ve activated those glutes, you can add resistance bands or weights to make the moves more challenging and develop even more strength. Aim for 12 reps on each side of these exercises x 2-3 rounds, 3 times a week. Do the exercises right before or after your run – put them into your schedule so you are more likely to complete them. You can mix and match these with the exercises from the last post, as well!
While this move also targets muscles in the legs, including the quads, calves, and hamstrings, the primary muscles worked are the glutes. Both forward and reverse lunges are good exercises for runners, but the reverse lunge is safer, as it puts let stress on your knees and is easier to keep proper form.
Start by standing up straight and feet shoulder width apart. Step back with one foot, bringing your back knee to the ground while bending your front leg. Make sure both legs are at a 90 degree angle and your front knee is not going over your toes. Squeeze the glute of your front leg to come back to standing. Complete all reps on one side before switching to the other side.
To add more resistance: hold a set of dumbbells
Get down on your hands and knees, with your back straight and neck in a neutral position. Squeeze your glute on one side to bring your leg up to the side, while keeping it bent (like a dog peeing on a fire hydrant). Pause at the top and bring it back to the ground. Make sure your back stays straight throughout this move. Complete all reps on one side before switching to the other side.
To add more resistance: add a resistance band above your knees
Remember that just 15 minutes, 2-3x a week is all it takes to notice a difference! Put it in your schedule and make it happen!
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). She offers group training programs in DC, as well as training plans that integrate strength training. DC winter training programs are open for a few more weeks, so if you’re training for a spring race, check her out at www.twtrainingwellness.com, or hear her interview on Episode 140 of the PaceTheNation Podcast. Feel free to reach out with questions at [email protected]