8 strengthening preventive exercises
The following preventive exercises will strengthen supporting muscles that you need for running. These preventive exercises, if done systematically and frequently, will improve your ability to avoid some of the most typical running injuries. However, please do not forget the main rule for avoiding injuries: Do not overload, which means: Do not train too hard or with too quick progression!
1 Sideways plank
Purpose: Strengthens the muscle gluteus medius and the tensor muscle in the thigh, which stabilises the pelvis during walking and running. Preventive towards runner’s knee.
Lift up the hip and put your stomach a little bit forward. Hold for 30 seconds, Repeat 5-10 times on each side.
2 Sideways plank with movement
Purpose: Same as for exercise 1 above, however in a more functional and challenging way. Preventive towards runner’s knee, in particular for those who are overpronating.
Move the hip backwards and down towards the floor, then up and forwards. Repeat 10 times on each side.
3 Plank with sliding pads
Purpose: Strengthens the stomach, back and iliopsoas muscles. Improves the core stability and reduces the risk of problems with the back.
Keep position, but vary by pulling one and one leg on the side of the body. Alternatively, bend both knees, pull them slowly towards your stomach and slowly back again.
4 Backwards lunges with pads
Purpose: Strengthens the quadriceps muscles and partly also the hamstrings muscles. Increases stability in the knees. Prevents knee injuries.
Start from standing position. The forward lower leg shall be kept steady, the thighbone shall move backwards, while keeping the foot on the sliding pad. Focus on calm, easy movements and push the knee a little bit outwards to the side when going up again to standing position.
5 Catslide back
Purpose: Strengthens the hamstrings muscles. The hamstrings are important, as they are heavily involved in the kicking phase of the stride, in particular in uphill running. Stabilises both the pelvis and knees.
Lift up your butt, hold the position while slowly stretching out the legs and then pull the legs towards your butt again. Repeat 2 X 10.
6 Balance exercise
Purpose: Strengthens the muscles around the ancle, calf and knee. It is important to have good strength in these to prevent sprain.
Stand on one leg on a cushioned mat/pillow – bend slightly downwards and keep balance for 3 minutes on each leg.
7 Bigtoe strengthening
Purpose: Strengthens the big toe muscle – ekstensor hallucis longus. Improves stability in the forefoot.
Stand barefoot and lift the bigtoe up from the floor without moving the other toes. Repeat 2 X 10 on each foot.
8 Toe lift
Purpose: Strengthens the muscles under the foot – fleksor digitorum and in particular the fleksor hallucis longus, which is important for the kicking phase of the stride. Prevents plantar fasciitis.
Perform toe lifts with a roll (towel, cloth or similar). 2 X 20 repetitions.
Go to the video gallery for preventive strengthening exercises to see the correct way of performing some of these exercises.
Read more about injury prevention and running injuries here:
Author: Hege Erichsen