If you asked most runners what day they would skip in their training plan, I can guarantee most of them will answer “strength.” We often see runners whose training plans don't even have a strength day included! While running is extremely demanding on our legs, it involves primarily linear movement, or movement in a forward direction only. Runners typically have weaker glutes, hips, and hamstrings compared to the quads, which can result in numerous lower body injuries.
A study in 2015 looked at lower limb control variables in female recreational runners with and without patellafemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), or knee pain. Each group ran on a treadmill while muscle EMG, ground reaction forces ,and joint angle measurements were recorded. Isometric muscle strength was also evaluated for each runner.
The authors compared runners from both groups and found no differences in variables that are commonly associated with patella femoral pain syndrome, such as hip internal rotation and pelvic drop at stance. They did find however, that runners with PFPS who were rear-foot strikers had decreased activation of their gluteus medius (your outer butt muscle) and lower ground reaction forces. This indicated that the gluteus medius on the affected side had a delayed firing pattern and was active for a shorter period of time during running. Essentially this means that a stronger butt can help to decrease knee pain.
Maintaining a strength routine during training is a great way to avoid running injuries. It also helps make a stronger, faster, and more efficient runner. If you don't know where to start with a strength training routine, come get some help from us! We can guarantee your running will thank you.
Esculier, J., Roy, J., & Bouyer, L. J. (2015). Lower limb control and strength in runners with and without patellofemoral pain syndrome. Gait& Posture, 41(3), 813-819.