5 Best Exercises For Runners To Prevent Over-Use Injuries
Running is a great exercise and a fun sport. Due to the nature of the tens of thousands of repetitions that occur when you run even shorter distances like a 5K, over-use injuries (think shin splints or tendinitis) often occur, and not just in masters athletes. Anyone is susceptible to these injuries. I was recently interviewed by Dr. Reheisse of Revive Sport & Spine to talk about some of the best exercises to not only prevent these over-use injuries but also to improve performance.
Here are, in my professional opinion, the 5 best exercises for runners to prevent over-use injuries and improve performance.
- Heavy Step-ups. Going heavy will improve running economy and reduce all the impact and stress you’re putting on the legs and knees by running. We recommend doing 3-5 sets of this exercise, but keep the reps between 3-6 each leg. Watch that the shin remains vertical and that your knee isn’t driving forward over the toe.
- Nordic Hamstring Leans. Hamstring pulls are all too common. This exercise has been shown to reduce hamstring pulls/strains. It’s a simple yet powerfully effective exercise at working your hamstrings. No equipment needed for this. Just someone to hold your ankles, or something to put/wedge your feet under (bed, sofa, etc). This does not have to be a big movement to be super effective. Lean as far forwards as you can without bending/breaking at the hips and still being able to reverse direction and come back to the starting position without assistance. We recommend starting with 2-3 sets of 5-10 reps.
- Stir the Pot. This is a great way to spice up the boring plank that everybody does. You get some movement in the arms and a stability challenge. Make sure that ONLY the arms move. Keep your hips from shifting or rotating. Squeeze your glutes to prevent your lower back from taking it in the shorts. Do 2-3 sets of 5 circles each direction (clockwise/counter-clockwise). Each rep should take several seconds.
- Hip Hikes. Don’t let the simplicity of this movement fool you. It looks simple, but it’s really going to light up your glutes and hips. The glutes are not only powerful drivers when it comes to running, but they are major hip stabilizers. If you can’t stabilize your hips while on one leg for a long period of time, you’ll lose efficiency in your stride and set yourself up for possible injury. Make sure that you keep both legs straight-no bending your knees. We recommend starting with 2-3 sets of about 20-30 reps each side.
- Banded Toe Raises. This will work the front of your shin, which is usually where you start hating life when you have shin splints. Doing this exercise can help alleviate your pain or even make it go away. If you don’t already have shin splints, still add this to your repertoire to prevent injury. We recommend doing 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps.