Running: Why do I need to strengthen my legs if I run?

Spring is right around the corner and that means warmer days which makes for a perfect time to run outdoors. Most runners, such as myself, complete shorter runs during the week and longer runs on the weekend. Therefore, our legs are constantly being worked and used. Yes, we are toning and building endurance but what about strength?
As runners we need to do more than just run. Without strength training, injuries are more likely to occur even when we have great running form. This is due to overuse. Muscles become tight, strained and can eventually lead to pain and injury. Statistics show that anywhere from 20-80% of runners are injured annually. Most injuries are due to overuse and occur because runners are not listening to their bodies and are not strengthening any knee stabilizing muscles.
Many injuries can be prevented with about 20 minutes of strength training several days a week. Performing specific running strength exercises will increase your body’s ability to withstand the impact of running. This is super important for those runners who put in many miles a week. Strength training can also help improve overall performance, increase your speed and your endurance.
So what strengthening exercises can you do?
  • Deadlifts (double and single leg)
  • Squats
  • Step Ups
  • Jumping Squats
  • Jumping Lunges
  • Lunges
  • Planks (side planks also)
  • Pistol Squats
  • Bird Dogs
  • Side lying leg raise
  • Cable Leg Abduction
Research has shown that in combination with glue med strengthening (the muscle on the side of your hip) and core (deep abdominal muscles that attach onto the spine) and quadricep strength, your knees become more stabilized and supported. It is also important to remember to complete exercises on one leg also since while you are running you are mainly on one leg at a time.

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