Friday, January 2, 2015

5 Strength Exercises for Runners

Keeping my focus on resolutions that go beyond the one-and-done kind of thing is not easy. This year I'm determined to reach the goals I set for myself that require a long term commitment.

For the past two weeks I have been working on re-building my overall leg strength following the meniscectomy. One thing I have realized is that as a runner, I probably should have taken more time to do these exercises while I was healthy too (see goals here).

Logging long runs obviously causes muscles to fatigue. A problem that I faced last year was when my torn meniscus caused some instability, my muscles started compensating. The over-compensation led to some muscle groups sort of "going to sleep" while others picked up the slack.

Through PT I'm learning to re-activate and wake up those muscles. Here are 5 exercises that runners can do even when healthy to make sure the glutes, hamstrings, and quads are working like they should be.

Wall Squats - This exercise is more for beginners to perfect form or for those rehabbing. The key is to make sure you are engaging those glutes by taking a pause in the squat to squeeze the glutes and then push up through the heels.

Bridge - Looks simple, but the key is to contract the abs and the glutes while maintaining a straight lift. Most of us lift too high which makes this exercise ineffective. Some recommend planting only heels on the ground to ensure you're driving up correctly.

Reverse Lunge - Using sliders (or paper plates) help to make sure you activate glutes and quads while working on stability as you push up through the heel. Place hand on a wall if needed.

Side Lunge - Just sit into it! Be sure to bend at the waist to engage the glutes and push through the heel on the way up.

Balance - Good balance is vital for runners considering we spend most of our miles on one leg. Balancing on a pillow/cushion ups the difficulty, but then try closing your eyes or having someone tap your hips from behind/sides.

What are your go-to strength exercises?
Can you balance on one leg with your eyes closed?

Happy Friday! 
I'm linking up with the Friday Five co-hosts  

This post is also part of the Fitness Friday link up hosted by Jill.

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