In this episode of The Omega Sports Move More Podcast, hosted by Dr. Scott Jablonka with Carolina Movement Doc, he’s discussing why runners should be doing strength training.
Strength training for runners
Running is monostructural, which means you do one thing over and over until you finish. It is incredibly popular and is much more than walking really fast. When we are running, we spend 99.9% of the time in a single-leg stance. While when you walk, your legs are in a double-leg stance, which means that both legs spend some time on the ground together. With running, we have a lot more stress and a lot more load on the body. So we need to be stronger.
Listen to the full episode from The Omega Sports Move More Podcast.
In the beginning, it’s a matter of managing your volume. How long are you running? How often do you run? Also, what time of day are you running? What’s your nutrition like? What about your sleep? Your hydration? All of these things play into a running program, not just distance and time. Load management.
The most popular injuries (when it comes to load management) are IT band syndrome (pain that goes down the side of your leg) and plantar fasciitis (pain on the bottom of your foot). Where is the real source of your issue? Most of the time, for a runner, the pain is not the location of the issue. If you have any issue with your leg, Dr. Jablonka will look at the core and hip structure. What happens at your hip, usually controls what happens at your knee, ankle, and foot. Runners usually run from point A to point B. Ask them to move sideways for a little bit, and they struggle. Why? Because they don’t train those muscles.
Running economy and ground reaction forces
We need to make sure that whatever energy we have is sustained and not blown out in the first mile. We don’t want anything to slow us down or push us backward. If something is pulling you back, even if it’s wind resistance, you’re going to have a slower pace. This is where bio-mechanic assessment comes in. Ground reaction force. Newton said: “for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction.” It is that concept that slows a lot of people down. You go for a walk; take a look at your feet – your right foot extends forward, your heel hits the ground, and vice versa. When running, we don’t want the heel to hit the ground so far in front of us, because when the heel travels forward and it hits the ground, the ground (in equal and opposite reaction) is going to hit our heel up and backward, the ground is going to have a backward force on us. If you’re a heel striker, that’s not a very good running economy. We want to make sure that the heel is brought back a bit.
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What muscles do you need to strengthen?
Dr. Jablonka’s exercise picks are squats, deadlifts, lunges, and standing on one leg (the reason for the last one is to see how well your pelvis can be maintained in line for an extended period of time). A lot of Dr. Jablonka’s strength training is geared towards strengthening lateral muscles, so your pelvis does not fall into the collapsed posture, leading to a curved lower back.
If you’re wondering where to start, you should work your way up to 60% of a one-rep max deadlift and back squat. For lower loads, you should do high repetitions
Lunges – probably the best and the easiest to do. They focus on asymmetric training, which means that you’re going to take a step forward, knee down, and then take a step forward over your stance leg. Do this for long periods of time, especially for runners, after every mile, throw in 30 to 40 lunges and continue on (don’t do this for 20 miles). You’re not as strong as you think until you do this.
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If you’re a novice – strength training is good, if you’re going to strength train, keep it asymmetric with deadlifts and back squats. If you’re scared of deadlifting and back squatting, seek out a professional, or resort to the good old lunge. Do this for 6 weeks, and you’re going to see a difference.
And if you need a good running program, check out Run Smart Online, a resource Dr. Jablonka highly recommends. Follow Dr. Jablonka on Instagram and if you are in the Charlotte, NC area check out Carolina Movement Doc to get ahead and stay ahead of the pain.