Do you do a sport or are you a runner?? Do you just turn up to training or a game or just go and run? If so, do you want to know how to improve your game or run?
Many of you are runners, so I will look at how you can improve your speed or help you prevent getting typical runners injuries.
The great thing about running is that it is so accessible & can be the quickest way to exercise. It also offers so many mental and physical benefits. It can help with sleep, osteoarthritis, stress and anxiety to name but a few.
Whilst running has so many benefits, many runners (male & female) get injured each year. Injuries often occur when things are changed too quickly, ie increase speed, distance or frequency, old shoes or not having enough recovery time.
I have talked before in previous blogs, about how to avoid injuries https://www.vickihill.co.uk/is-your-body-fit-to-run/
The important thing for running or any sports, is that you challenge your body in different directions, with different weights & do some strength exercises, even bodyweight exercises.
So, why do strength training?
Although strength training for runners is often overlooked, there are many reasons why it should be part of any running programme.
- Firstly, building strength can help to increase speed by improving coordination and power.
- Secondly, it can reduce the chance of injury through improved muscle tolerance, whilst allowing your body to run for longer with improved coordination and stride efficiency.
- Strength training can be the answer for anyone who struggles with regular running/sports -related aches and pains or has wants to improve their game/running.
A dynamic strength routine or an exercise class can decrease the chance of developing a sports injury to less than one-third. This doesn’t have to be complicated as you can start with bodyweight exercises before adding extra weight. I have exercise sessions in my online membership or my evening fitness classes!
Obviously, everyone’s body is different and will react differently to exercise. There is never a one size fits all approach to injury prevention and rehab. Just find something which offers a whole body approach or if you need to target specific exercises, then find the best class or physio to help with the exercises. Start with the more gentle exercises and progress slowly – you can work up from bodyweight to light dumbbells to heavier weights, if you begin to enjoy it.
So, what sort of exercises are good to start with??
It does depend on the sport you are doing, but you can’t go wrong with working your main muscle groups – things like:
- press ups,
- shoulder press
- & if you have dumbbells or bands, include rows.
- You may also want to add a bit of impact exercises – plyometrics to help propel you – like squat jumps, burpees or steps ups. It does obviously depend on any injuries or issues with any of your joints/muscles.
Finally & really importantly, for all sport – Core Exercises.
If you are weak in the core then you are more prone to injury. Practice breath work to activate the deep abs. Start with easier deep abs exercises – single leg extension progressions to and advance when ready & not bulging in the tummy to double leg lowers, planks (start on knees) to side planks to basic obliques – elbow to knee & then to elbow to knee with opposite leg extending. Remember, if you have a diastasis (mid line gap in the tummy) or pelvic floor issues then seek help with that. I can offer you exercises for these or advise who to see about it.
Don’t forget your glutes, often the powerhouse. They can be tight or underactive so you need to ‘wake them up’ or ‘release’ them to start strengthening them. Focus on them, tap your bum & remember you need to work all the glutes – minimus, maximus & medius with things like mini band side & back kicks.
Hopefully, you can see, by working on some strength work and incorporating it into your exercise routine, or if you want to start one, then basic whole body exercises can really help. Do get in touch if you want help or advice with starting out.