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Strengthen your running

Running Exercise Cardiovascular_training

Written by:
Birgitte Nymann ( www.nymanns.dk )
Author, speaker and educator within Exercise, health, nutrition and motivation. Concept – and seminar developer at Pro Academy, Denmark. Educated and trained in sport from University of Copenhagen.

Running demands much of the collaboration between almost each and every muscle in your entire body. The timing in the tension in your muscles is crucial for the development of the power in the muscles, which shall pull the body forwards. When the coordination, timing and strength in the muscles is good, the more power can be produced, and the risk of overloading injuries as a result of running is smaller.

It is a myth that runners do not have to train with weights, because studies show that the exercises improves speed, improves your running economy and prevents injuries, so you will just have to get going.

When you look at the life that most people live today, there is a lot of physical inactivity; We spend more time in the car than ever before, we sit and work, eat, watch TV (3 hours a day on average), and all work forms are generally more physically inactive than they have been before. Many people compensate for this by running before or after work, when the weather is fine or before the weekly badminton lesson – and this is good. However, the problem with an inactive lifestyle is that the joints, tendons and muscles of the body are not strained as much as they are created to be and therefore they do not have the strength, agility and function which actually is needed for running to be tolerant for the body. Without weight training in connection with almost every running distance, the risk of developing injuries is quite big. Most runners can agree to this. You just do not think that you can do anything to prevent it. But you can prevent tibia infections, infections in the Achilles tendon, runner’s knee, hip problems and lower back problems, shoulder and neck tensions, and by and large the discomfort that some people feel when they run. Running is an incredible amount of complex tensions of tendons, muscles and ligaments that shall move and support the joints. A run consists of lots of repetitions of the same tensions, movements and strains and for the body to endure this it has to be trained for it. This is why you can get incredibly sore and perhaps suffer from distinct pains if you run more than the body is fit to. But again, it is not always enough just to run, if you want to train the body to be able make longer runs without getting injuries. It also takes weight training. And weight training also helps with the toning of the abdominal muscles (abs), the buttocks and arms – this cannot be done by just running.

The muscles of the abdomen and back

This is their job when you run

All the movements of the body emanates from the centre of the body – from the abs and the back. The muscles have to be strong as well as enduring. At the same time the muscles of the abdomen and the back helps to provide shock-absorption for the spine and the shoulder blades and it has great influence on the posture, which is quite important when running. The poorer the posture around the spine the greater is the risk for injuries in and around the spine.
The better the training in these muscles is, the longer can they endure and hence they can develop more power so you can run faster.

The wide back muscle (the one that makes the men’s upper body triangular, when they are well-trained)

This is their job when you run

It is utmost important for the propulsion when walking and running. The muscle acts stabilising and moving on the spine as well as it pulls the arms backwards. It provides stability around the lower back and, together with the obliquus muscles of the abdomen, it acts breakingly on the rotation that takes place around the spine when you walk and run.

Arm and shoulder belts

This is their job when you run:< /p>

The arms’ and the shoulder belt’s muscles control the arms’ and the shoulder belt’s movements and its job is to cooperate with the rest of the body in order to create balance and stability in the upper part of the body. The shoulder belt swings from side to side when running – and it has to work oppositely of the rotation that takes place around the pelvis and the lower back and in this way it creates balance when running and it contributes to the propulsion. The better the balance that can be obtained between the movements in the upper part of the back and around the shoulder belt towards the rotation of the lower back and the pelvis, the better the propulsion will be.

Buttocks and hamstrings

This is their job when you run:

They stand for the increased step length that you have compared to walking. This means that they are responsible for pulling the body forward to the foot which is standing in front, past it and then break the movement so that the foot can be placed on the ground and so the body again can be pulled forward. The deep muscles of the hip can furthermore stabilise the pelvis and the femur bone in relation to each other – especially when landing so they will hold the joint, which is the joint that gets the greatest strain when running, in the correct position during every landing. The coordination in the muscle is improved when weight training and it can give a faster contraction of the muscles, which will give a faster leg change when running = greater pace.

The front of the thigh

This is their job when you run:

The front of the thigh should break the weight of the body when the leg is put down so the leg will not break. The coordination in the muscle is improved by weight training and it can give a faster contraction of the muscle, which will give a faster and more powerful take-off = greater pace.


This is their job when you run:

The calves stand for the last part of the take-off and it has to be strengthened in order to contract properly and create propulsion for the leg. The calves contract so that the foot joint can stretch and give the last push to the body before the leg is moved forwards to take the next step.

Shinbone muscles - tibialis

This is their job when you run:

The shinbone muscles- tibialis- shall control the impact of the foot. If the muscles do not work properly the body’s own shock absorption will be decreased. You do not have to train them directly, but they have to be trained in connection with other muscles so the weight training is engineered so that the tibialis anterior work like they do when you walk and run (bend the ankles)


Walking squats

(strengthens the front thigh, back thigh, hip muscles, tibialis, abs and back)
Stand with your feet in hip width’s distance. Tighten your abs and straighten your back. Take one big step forward and bend your legs while the upper body is kept upright. Stretch your legs and pull the rearmost leg up to and past the front leg and step forward and bend down in the leg. Repeat 2-3 x 20 in all.

Squat to toe-standing

(strengthens the front thigh, back thigh, hip muscles, calves, abs and back)
stand with your feet in hip width’s . Tighten your abs and straighten your back. Cross your arms over your chest and raise your elbows to shoulder height. Bend your knees until your backside is opposite your knees and your heels still touch the floor. Stretch your legs to the initial position and stretch the foot joint so you will elevate yourself up on your toes. You can for instance raise your arms over your head. Lower down to the initial position and repeat it. Repeat 2-3 x 10-20 times.

Balance with arm and leg swings

(strengthens hip muscles, abs and back)
Stand with your feet in hip width’s distance. Tighten your abs and straighten your back. Pull one leg stretched backwards till it cannot get any further, while you still stand with your back straight and your abs flexed. Move your leg forward and do a knee lift while your back is still straight and your abs flexed. Repeat it for 60 seconds and change leg. Repeat the exercise 2-3 times with each leg.

Standing draw

(strengthens abs and back)
Stand with your feet in hip width’s distance. Tighten your abs and straighten your back. Bend a little in your knees and lean your upper body forward over your legs. Lean as much forward as you can while still keeping your back straight. Focus on tightening your abs and swing your arms back and forth. Repeat the exercise for 60-90 seconds. Repeat 3-4 times in all.

Lift the legs

(strengthens back and abs, shoulder belt and gives a static leg workout) Stand with your hands on a bench or similar platform. Stretch your body completely. Tighten your abs. Lift your legs by turns. Repeat the exercise 3-4 times x 60 seconds.

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