One of the best ways to make your body more resilient against injuries, as well as improve your running strength and performance, is to strength train. It is important to focus on the key areas in the right ways in order to maximize the benefits of your strength training for your running.
Feet and ankles: Your feet and ankles absorb a great deal of the force of running and in order to withstand that force and avoid injury, they must be strong and have adequate range of motion. Exercises that encourage foot and ankle health include calf raises/lowers, heel walks and toe raises. Other exercises may be useful depending on your injury history. For example, towel drags are useful for runners with a history of plantar fasciitis.
Quads, hips and glutes: These muscles are the powerhouse of your running. The focus here should be on stability, symmetry (each side of your body close to equal strength) and general strength. Exercises to include for quad, hip and glute strength are: lunges, squats and glute bridges. Difficulty can be increased by adding weight or by increasing the stability challenge. For example, try single leg glute bridges. Other exercises, such as clams and lateral straight leg raises, are useful for runners with a history of IT band injury.
Core (abdominals): The core is key to keeping your pelvis stable as you run. Here you should focus on stability and endurance. Exercises such as planks, side planks, leg lowers and isometric side holds (Pallof holds) are useful in training these muscle groups. Planks and side planks can be advanced by adding instability (such as a ball or BOSU) but be careful with these progressions as the risk of falling or injury is greater.
Focus on these areas and you will reap the benefits by becoming stronger and more resilient to injury.
If you are interested in a small group strength training class focusing on all of the above body parts, join us at RunSMART.