Are you a runner?
The goal of any exercise program is to elicit a change. Usually, the underlying reason for diving into fitness is to move better, feel better or look better. Maybe your goal is to run your personal best race time, or progress from a 5K to a half marathon. Maybe you want to completely change the way you look.
The exercise you choose will determine what changes your body undergoes. Running is often the first choice when starting a fitness program. You can do it almost anywhere, and the cost of entry is low. Running, while a great workout, doesn’t train the body equally. Certain muscles get more stimulus than others. Over time, this has the potential to lead to imbalances. Muscle imbalances put strain on the body and can lead to pain and possible injury.
Why does running cause injury via muscle imbalance?
When we are born, our bodies naturally develop the ability to move in 7 different patterns or movements. We learn to squat, hinge or bend at the hips, stand on one leg, lunge or stand in a split stance, push, pull and stabilize the core. All of these movements are developed without a coach or any specific exercises. The movements develop as a baby learns to stabilize its head, roll over, sit up, creep on its belly, crawl, walk and eventually run. These are the fundamental human movements that allow us to move efficiently and pain-free. Nature’s goal is for us to maintain those abilities till the end of time. Our current lifestyle contains a lot of sitting and less moving, so sometimes those movements lose their competency. When we lose the ability to control even a few of those movements, the stress on the body can lead to pain and injury.
Running relies directly on two of the seven movement patterns. Most of the emphasis is on the split stance and single leg movements. Running doesn’t involve the squat, hinge, push, pull or core stability, so training the other 5 movement patterns will be well worth it. Not only will doing so make you a more effective runner, it can reduce the amount of time you spend on the sidelines or in the trainer’s room.
We can tie each of the 7 movement patterns to specific exercise categories.
Squat contains everything you need to know in the name. The Goblet Squat maybe the king of all choices, especially for runners. Great hip mobility, core stability and overall leg strength all come from performing the Goblet Squat.
The hinge pattern includes deadlifts, straight leg deadlifts, and kettlebell swings. The hinge pattern can be tricky to develop. Think about engaging your glutes and hamstrings with no low back involvement.
Split stance includes all variety of lunges, including sled work. For a really progressive training effect, work on more than traditional forward-backward lunges. Side lunges and drop lunges are very effective.
To train the single leg stance, include some single leg squats or step ups.
The push category contains all variations of push-ups and presses. Push-ups using a TRX or Valslide have extra benefit due to their increased core recruitment.
Pull patterns include all forms of pull-ups and rows. The ability to do a pull-up or two is rare, and it’s definitely something pretty cool to be able to do!
Rotary stability includes all forms of planks, Palof presses and Valslide movements.
Include an equal amount of exercises from each movement with the goal of reducing imbalances and creating efficiency.
To start balancing your training, take a look at your current program. Does it contain equal amounts of exercises from each category? Typically, most workouts focus on squats, pushes, and possibly lunges. Look for gaps in your program. Look at each exercise you are currently doing and assign it to one of the 7 categories, then total how many of each you have.
Full body workouts typically produce the best results and are most convenient from a time perspective. Pick an exercise from each of the seven categories and perform 2-3 sets of each for a total of 7 exercises per workout. Below are a few examples for you to try! Incorporate this type of training and check your results after one month. You will be a better, stronger runner!
Sample Workout #1
- Valslide Saw 3x 8
- Goblet Squats 12
- TRX Rows 12
Repeat 3 Rounds
- Valslide Back Lunge 12 each
- T- Push Up 6 each side
Repeat 3 Rounds
Sample Workout #2
- Valslide Pike 3x 8
- Deadlfits 12
- Pullup Hangs (hang from a pullup bar for as long as you can. If its short 5 seconds- complete 2-3 rounds as 1 set. Goal of 45-60 seconds total. Then try it from the top. Jump or use a box to climb to the top of a pullup with your elbows bent. Hold there for as long as you can.)
Repeat 3 Rounds
- Side Lunges x12 ea leg
- TRX Pushups x12
Repeat 3 Rounds
Mark Crabtree is the Founder and President of Ignite Fitness Inc. Mark has been in the fitness business for more than 17 years. Mark is a Certified Athletic Trainer, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and Certified with the Functional Movement Screen. Mark Crabtree has been featured on WGN Morning News, CLTV, in the Chicago Tribune and Suburban Life Newspaper.