BY GREG LARAIA, ATC
Strength training gets a bad rap in the running community. Many runners complain that it seems time-consuming and unnecessary, but nothing could be further from the truth. Strength training helps to improve performance and history, but you’ll see benefits beyond your running. From basic bone health to long term chronic disease management, strength training has huge benefits.
When you run, your body takes on about 2.5-3 times your body weight with each step. Adding strength training helps your body to learn how to cope with the different load weights, making you more efficient when dealing with the added strain on your bones, muscles, and joints. your bones actually become denser and the joints become more lubricated. This serves to improve bone and joint health and improves your body’s overall function.
My favorite reason to incorporate strength training is the increase in power output. Who doesn’t want to be more powerful? Strength training improves overall power by stressing the muscles. When you train, you are physically tearing muscle fibers (not in a bad way). As the fibers repair themselves, they get stronger. Remember, stronger doesn’t necessarily mean bigger and bulkier! There are ways to train for muscle growth, but that’s a different topic of discussion. When you run, you experience fatigue as the miles or the intervals add up, but you are able to maintain strength and produce more power with each step. If you can improve power output from strength training, you improve your ground reaction forces and your ability to put the power to the ground, making you more efficient!
Strength is also a great way to improve overall gait mechanics. Seeing pictures or videos of yourself running can be eye-opening. You may notice that your legs are caving in or your hips are sideways. Exercises are here to help you fix those mechanics. Building efficiency through strength will improve your overall body stability. If you are stable you can take the power you have and use it to move forward instead of compensating by making unnecessary changes in your mechanics. Strength training is here to improve function, not limit it!
If you have any questions regarding strength training, we’re here for you! Please feel free to reach out to your coach at any time!