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Every year around this time people get cabin fever with excitement to strap on the new running shoes they got from Santa Claus that, until now, they haven’t been able to use. However, with this aggressive desire to get out and jog mile after glorious mile, there are some risks that need to be taken into consideration, and strength exercises that should be completed before you hit the pavement.

As is the case with any sport where you are required to complete a certain repetitive motion over a long duration of time, there is the propensity for the body to develop overuse injuries. These particular types of injuries arise from the fact that the muscles that are involved in completing whatever movement that is being done over and over again (agonist muscles), wind up getting stronger than the muscles that are responsible for supporting the movement (antagonist muscles).

In the case of long distance running, especially during the first few weeks of running after a long winter hiatus, there are a few common overuse injuries that will occur to the body:

-          Knee pain which appears because the repetitive running motion is largely controlled by the quadriceps group.

-          Low back pain can develop in runners for a couple of different reasons. First, your hip flexors constantly pull your pelvis forward, which causes your spinal erector muscles to have to work in order to keep your pelvis in line. Secondly, your spinal erectors are also primarily responsible for holding your torso in the favorable upright posture that you need in order to run long distances efficiently.

-          Shin splints are caused by tiny little micro tears in the anterior tibialis muscle, which is the small skinny muscle that runs vertically over the front of your shin bone, and is responsible for actively lifting your toes off the ground every time your heel strikes the ground.

Now, because we have an understanding of what muscles are typically overused in running, we know what muscles to strengthen in order to prevent these common injuries and keep you on the track longer!

-          Strengthen the hamstring group in order to balance out the quadriceps group. Therefore the deadlift, Romanian deadlift, and drop lunge would be advised.

-          Strengthen your transverse abdominis muscle in your core as well as your glutes. Exercises that are great for your abs and glutes would include the deadlift (again), hip bridging, and planks.

-          Strengthen the lateral side of your lower leg and keeping your calf muscles flexible are imperative. Great exercises for building these areas include lateral step ups and deadlifts (third time’s a charm!).

In addition to all of these strength exercises, using a foam roller as a part of your warm up routine is a great way to keep the muscles loose and prevent injuries. And, as always, if any of this sounds overwhelming, we are here to help!


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