Around 70% of runners get injured every year. This can be anything from a stress fracture, growing pains for younger athletes or a sprained ankle. Whilst some injuries are inevitable, many of them are preventable and strength training is a great way to prevent injury by making your body more resistant and less likely to get injured.

Strength Train To Reduce Injury Risk

What Needs Strengthening

Your bones, tendons, muscles and ligaments are all impacted by exercise and this is particularly true of running. When running you land on your feet, step after step and send lots of force through your legs. If all the different components of your legs aren’t strong enough, you are more likely to get injured.

Doing strength training whether it’s callisthenics, plyometrics or weight lifting will improve the strength of your bones, ligaments, muscles and tendons. The key to reducing the risk of injury is by applying the principle of progressive overload. This is to gradually increase the total ‘load’ of the work you’re doing so your body has time to adapt to the stress being placed on it, ultimately allowing your body to grow stronger.

Bones

Injury can occur to the bones if they are unable to cope with the forces going through the legs. This is particularly true of runners who run many miles per weak which can make them susceptible to stress fractures which are anĀ overuse injury caused by the repetitive stress of impact forces going through the bones in the legs.

Tendons

Each time you push off the ground different tendons in your legs are stressed, even the Achilles tendon, the largest and strongest tendon in the body. Those who start running after being sedentary for a long period of time and find themselves loving running can be prone to overuse injuries since they haven’t given time for the tendon to adapt to the stress placed on the tendons by running which is why you should gradually build up the total load being placed on the tendons.

Start slow and be patient since it takes about 10 weeks of regular resistance exercise (including running) to strengthen tendons, and even longer for tendons to become physically thicker. If you want to do exercises to strengthen the Achilles tendon, I recommend doing calf raises on a raised box or a set of steps.

Muscles

You may think that strength training is unnecessary for the muscles to reduce injury since you use and train the same muscles over and over, again and again when you’re running. This is true, but some muscles such as the abductor and adductor muscles in the legs are undertrained and become much weaker than the dominant hamstrings and quadriceps. This means its harder for your body to properly control the lateral movement of your leg through the air and could make you more prone to injury.

The best way to work on your muscles with strength training is to find out which muscle groups are weaker or underused when running and focus on them whilst strength training to give your body more balance and control when you’re running.

Ligaments

Ligaments are the connective tissue that holds bone to bone so it’s important they are strong to ensure everything remains aligned whilst you are running. Like tendons, ligaments take about 10 weeks to increase in strength and longer to thicken since they are less metabolically active than muscles.

How Strength Training Reduces Injury Risk

Work On Imbalances And Weaknesses

Strength training improves the different structures in the legs, improving weaknesses and correcting imbalances within the body so that when exercising you are more likely to maintain good form and technique which reduces the risk of injury. Work on your weaknesses so that they don’t cause you to become injured which will take even longer to recover from. Find different exercises which isolate the weaknesses within your body and focus on them.

Have Someone Video Or Watch You

Having someone else watch you run and analyse your technique can be very useful for identifying imbalances and weaknesses within the body. Video footage is equally useful for analysing technique and by frequently having video footage to look back on, you can view how your running style, technique and weaknesses have changed over time and the effect it has on your performance.


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