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Running with pain and injury takes all the fun out of training. It causes extra worry and frustration that undermines your efforts. There are many ways to correct or prevent running pains or stresses. Don’t just brace, mask with pain killers or ignore your aches and pains. They are there for a reason. Listen to your body and address each issue that presents itself.
Learn how these leg strengthening exercises can help you avoid pain and injury during your long distance training.
Run More Efficiently AND Hurt Less
Far too many runners end up with common running injuries like shin splints, IT band syndrome, lower back pain or issues with feet. It affects training, slows times in races and puts runners on the shelf causing them to miss doing what they love. A lot of these injuries are due to muscular imbalances between the muscles on the front of the leg, quads and hip flexors and the muscles on the back, the hamstrings and glutes. Strengthening the posterior muscles addresses many of these imbalances and allows for more efficient and pain-free running.
Exercise #1: Straight Leg Deadlift
This exercise is potent for strengthening the hamstrings and glutes. Start with dumbbells or a barbell in your hands standing tall. Shift the hips backwards and the chest forward while keeping the legs almost completely straight so that you feel tension begin to build in your hamstrings. Continue hinging at the hip, keeping your lower back straight, until you struggle to maintain normal lower back straightness at the bottom. Slowly raise your chest back to the starting position taking care to use your hamstrings to do the work of extending your back and finish with your glutes tightly squeezed at the top. Repeat for 10-15 reps and 3-4 sets.
Exercise #2: Split Squat
Start with light dumbbells in your hands facing away from a bench, step or any small, stable elevated surface. Take three short steps away from the bench and extend one foot back onto the bench so that you are in a lunge position with one foot elevated. With your torso completely vertical, bend your front leg slowly (2-3 secs from top to bottom) and end with the knee of your front leg directly above the ankle in an extended lunge position. Push yourself up through the heel of the front foot and repeat for 6-8 reps. Do 6-8 on the opposite leg and then rest for 1-2 minutes. 3 sets per leg should be more than enough to work the hamstrings, glutes, quads and midsection. Finally, only increase the weight used when you feel stable and comfortable for all 3 sets on each leg.
How often do you perform leg strengthening exercises and what are your favorites?
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