January 6th, 2022
Four Reasons Runners NEED Strength Training
By: Cuyler Hudson, DPT
- Soft tissue injury prevention: The best ability to have is availability, and the best way to keep yourself available for runs is by strength training. This is where the concept of tissue capacity comes into play. By building strength, you are increasing the amount of wear and tear muscles can take before they start to develop small tears in the muscle fibers, leading to soft tissue injury, or potentially causing compensations that can lead to injuries in other parts of the body. Even those with less optimal movement patterns can get away with it if the tissue that’s taking the increased level of stress is strong enough (we of course recommend you see a PT to fix your movement patterns as well though).
- Bone stress injury prevention: The most dreaded two words in the sport of running: stress fracture. These injuries are caused by the repetitive impact on the bone during high running mileage. The only way to decrease your chances of getting one is to increase the strength of your bones, or bone mineral density. When performing strength training, the higher tensile forces of the muscles pulling on the bones results in increased bone mineral density, strengthening the bone, and keeping your bones healthy.
- Improved performance: Follow any pro runners instagram account and you will see videos of them performing strength training. Running is a sport that relies on muscle stiffness and controlled explosive movements in order to improve performance, and guess what improves both of these? You guessed it…strength training!
- Get “unstuck”: Performing the exact same movement pattern when exercising over and over again (running!) causes your body to adapt to that one very specific pattern, with the same exact joints being stressed in the same exact way time and time again. This is necessary to a certain extent to build capacity for that specific movement pattern, but it also means your body will become deconditioned to different ranges of motion and different planes of motion. A well rounded strength program will fix this, and give your body some much needed input in new motor patterns to make you a more well-rounded athlete, and prevent the overuse injuries that are so common.