Winter is here and our fair-weather runners have boxed up their shoes. Others, however, power on with facemasks and spiked running shoes, and those hoping to build up to a spring marathon are beginning to formulate their training routines.
For this month’s contribution, I’m encouraging all of the runners out there to consider approaching this winter as an opportunity to weave some strength training into their regimen.
The sell: for some time now, it has been well studied, and widely accepted, that strength training decreases injury risk and improves running efficiency. In other words, a properly designed strength and stability program allows the runner to go farther and faster with less effort. However, elite and competitive runners often fear precious time away from running.
Typically, these runners accept the idea that a proper program can reduce their injury risk, but they are primarily performance-focused. It can be really hard to convince a runner to devote valued energy resources and time toward anything other than running, unless it’s going to improve their times.
To explore the link between strength training and running performance, let’s turn to the science and look at an impressive study out of Madrid, Spain. Researchers from the University of Madrid Sport and Human Performance Lab performed a large systematic review of articles to look for a consensus on whether strength training improves performance in runners.
Their review of over 600 articles concluded that the research clearly demonstrated that strength training provides a “large, beneficial effect” on running efficiency in competitive and well-conditioned runners.
Let me emphasis that: the exact group that is most difficult to prove beneficial effects in, the already well-conditioned runners, saw obvious improvements in their performance from just two to three months of a prescribed strength training regimen. These results were observed in study after study. The defense rests.
If you don’t think you have time to include a strengthening routine into your winter training plans, consider swapping 10% -15% of your running time to dedicate towards strength training. It will not only increase your chances of running injury-free, but it will also make you better at running!
For those with specific performance goals in mind, or with a complex injury history, you would do well to meet with a Sports Physical Therapist for an individualized program.
See our website for information about VASTA’s Runners Assessments!
Our Running Evaluation is the most comprehensive assessment offered anywhere in the region, including a 20+ Point Mobility Screen, Strength Testing, and Foot/Shoe Evaluation as well as a Video Gait Analysis looking at 30+ angular measurements to identify injury risks and form inefficiencies – www.VASTAsports.com.
As always, please email me with any thoughts questions or ideas for future articles. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeff Albertson is a sports physical therapist and the Director of Physical Therapy at VASTA Performance Training and Physical Therapy.
Jeff and his family live in Charlotte.