"Why do I get knee pain when I run? Or why does my calf always tear? I stretch and foam roll my ITB/calf everyday".
the good body of knowledge that exists regarding the benefits of
resistance training in all facets of sporting life, and life in general -
improved performance and decreased injury rates being just 2 examples -
it surprises me to see frequently in the clinic, an absence of a
strengthening plan in my patients who are regular runners.
A lack of strength, in my opinion, is a key modifiable risk factor that needs attention.
Research indicates that flexibility training alone is not helpful in reducing overuse injury risk. Whereas strengthening alone can reduce overuse injuries by up to 50%.
Moving away from decreased injury risk and looking at
improved running performance; here are just 2 studies that clearly show
that the addition of resistance training to a running program can
improve running economy (systematic review and meta-analysis - study 1), and enhance endurance performance, such as having the ability to sprint and "kick away" at the end of a race (study 2).
The other thing that is overlooked in the weekly training plan for my patients who run, is plyometric training. To be fair, in inexperienced hands, plyometric training can be more harmful than beneficial. But a carefully added jumping program can be very beneficial to improved running economy and performance.
Now I completely understand when a patient says to me, "how am I supposed to do all of this strength AND plyometric work AND find the time to run". And it's a very good and fair question, but the answer is simple.
The novice runner shouldn't be running more than 3 days per week, so if you're running more than that, you should reduce your running days which should give you 2 days a week to do a combined strength and plyometric session, then the other 2 days are dedicated to active recovery/stretching/mobility.
For the advanced/elite runner, things are a bit different, but under the guidance of a good sports physio, exercise physiologist or S&C coach, strength and plyometrics can be periodised safely into their weekly schedule without overloading the athlete.
Obviously running injuries are multi-factorial, so I purposefully did not go into specific detail about certain injuries, rather I felt the need to once again spread the word about the benefits of resistance training over more passive approaches such as stretching and foam-rolling.
Mr Michael Hughes
28 Sep 2016