The Exercise Runners Don't Do Enough

November 30, 2023

When I spoke to former physio Eddy O’Byrne, he told me a couple of interesting things about the injuries runners pick up and how to properly return to action after these injuries.

We have already spoken about ways runners can attempt to avoid injury in the previous article of this series, and this time we take a look at all things recovery.

Eddy told me that many runners don’t realise how important strength, and strength training in particular, is to a runners’ fitness and physique.

‘One thing runners definitely don’t do enough of is strength training. Believe it or not, you do need to be somewhat strong as a runner. It can place too much pressure on your joints and tendons if your muscles aren’t strong enough and aren’t able to absorb the load as well as they should.

‘Another reason is control. People struggle with technique, where their feet collapse in, or their knees collapse inwards towards their mid-line. This can cause a range of injuries.

‘Once a physio can identify whether it’s a lack of strength, lack of control, or both, then you would be assigned exercises to correct or negate that.

‘If it’s a control issue then you would be assigned a lot of single leg exercises, single leg hopping to focus on good form and focus on better recruitment of muscles especially in your hip so your knee doesn’t collapse in and the arch in your foot doesn’t collapse in, this will lead to better overall limb control as you land. You will gain better load absorption when landing and taking off.

‘If it’s a lack of strength, you will quite literally be strength training. Very simple strength training can prevent a lot of injuries. People who are used to lifting weights don’t often pick up as many injuries compared to someone who is coming from a purely running background, purely because they have a little bit more strength in all their leg muscles and their able to tolerate the load that little bit better.

‘Coming back has to be phased, usually you would have to get people to either really reduce their training volume or stop completely and really slowly build it back up. A 10% volume increase each week, anything more than that you are risking injury.’

Identifying the importance of strength training as well as improving your control when running is key for all runners. Being able to bear the load that your body is carrying is vital. The pointers outlined above should help all runners improve and achieve their goals while minimising injury risk. 

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