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Jun 20, 2022

5 Exercises for Runners

Couple running together

Exercises are a valuable tool for runners. Exercise helps to increase muscle and tendon strength, which in turn reduces the risk of injury. Done well, runners who exercise are less likely to develop knee injuries or arthritis compared to non-runners. The key isn’t just doing any type of exercising, but specific types of stretches and movements specifically designed for runners to strengthen leg and core muscles. 

A key component to avoiding those types of injuries is to invest in proper physical therapy. That is, routine and consistent care can help minimize the risk of injury.

Why Physical Therapy for Runners?

Physical therapy for runners is a must. Therapists work to prevent injuries in a number of ways:

  • They help ensure a runner is running with proper form, minimizing the risk of injury as a result.
  • Therapists provide new training methods to help improve outcomes from each running session.
  • Therapists can also help with shoe selection, ensuring that the shoes a runner selects are the proper type and style for their needs.
  • They provide both pre-and post-running stretches and exercises to improve overall outcomes.
  • Therapists can often help develop custom plans designed to address the unique needs of the runner.

These are some of the benefits of physical therapy for runners. They can help reduce the risk of injury and give you the results you want. You don’t have to be in pain when running every day.

Types of Physical Therapy for Runners?

It’s important for each person to receive a custom physical therapy plan of care. What works for you may not be the best choice for others. Some of the following exercises may be beneficial to numerous people.

#1: Side Lunges

woman doing side lunges

Lunges are a powerful way to improve mobility in the transfer and frontal planes. Lunges, which are long, directional steps in the proper direction, enable the opening up of the hips. This allows for stretching the abductors and glutes.

Side lunges involve taking a wide step to the left, bending the knees as you step outward while keeping the hips back. From there, push off with the left foot to return to a starting position. Do this on both sides of the body.

#2: Hip Flexor Stretch

Woman doing hip flexors

For runners, hip mobility is very important. That is why it is so important to stretch this muscle prior to any significant run. The hip flexor stretch helps runners stretch out muscles, especially if they have been sitting for a number of hours prior to their workout. Sitting creates tighter hips, which can limit overall run quality because of how they extend their leg behind them during each run.

To complete this stretch, kneel and then position one foot in front of you with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep the back straight during this stretch, but push your hips forward while keeping your shoulders square. You should feel a stretch in the upper thigh area. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and relax.

#3: Single Leg Deadlift

Man coaching woman doing single leg deadlift

The goal of these exercises is to focus on balance. While a deadlift may seem like a terrifying experience, it does not have to be. In this exercise, you are only going to focus on one leg at a time. The benefit will be that you are working your hamstring, reducing the pain and tension there and enjoying it so you are ready to run easily. Hamstrings are critical to running and often the area of the leg that is injured the most. That occurs because this muscle is often one of the weakest muscles for many runners.

To do this, stand with your feet hip-width apart and parallel to each other. Use a barbell, two dumbbells, or a kettlebell. Hold it in front of you with your hands down. Then, lean forward with just your hips. Shift the weight onto just one leg while doing this. The other leg will start to extend straight behind you. Continue to lift the extended leg and pitch your body forward. The goal is to get as close to a “T” shape as you can. Hold your arms straight down, balancing your weight. Let your arms hang down in front of you, holding onto the weight. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly bring the extended leg to the starting position.

#4: Squats

Man doing air squats

This is another exercise that many people do not like to do, but it is one of the best options available for those who are looking to improve muscle strength and quality. Most runners need to do squats as they have tight quads and weak glutes. This exercise will also help improve hamstring strength. When you have weakness in these areas, it is very common to develop poor form when exercising and running.

To do squats properly, stand with your feet just a bit wider than your hips. Keep the toes facing forward. Then, drive your hips backward. You’ll be bending at your knees and ankles. Press your knees to a slightly open position. Move into the squatting position. Keep your heels and toes flat on the ground while you do so. Push your shoulders backward and keep your chest up for proper form. Over time, the goal is to reach a parallel level, with your knees at a 90-degree angle.

#5: Foam Roll

Woman using foam roller

To keep your muscles healthy and hydrated, use a foam roller on your legs. Be sure to move the roller up and down along the quads as well as the calf muscles. This is a physical therapy exercise that helps to loosen the muscles there and gives you a bit of a breather from more intense workouts.

Let Our Physical Therapist Guide You

What is most about physical therapy for runners is that it is capable of being customized to meet your needs. An individualized treatment plan like this can help you run more effortlessly and improve your overall ability to recover from a workout. Give us a call today to learn more about the ways we can help you improve your running game.