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home > training > injury prevention > strong medicine

Strong Medicine
Strengthening exercises can prevent muscle imbalances that lead to running injuries. Try this routine of exercises to treat and prevent runners' ailments.

  
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By Josh Clark
Posted Saturday, 25 April, 1998

This page lists several exercises that may be used to treat and prevent a variety of injuries by strengthening muscles that might otherwise get short shrift in your running program.

> Anterior leg muscles
(To prevent shin splints)

> Quadriceps
(To prevent runner's knee)

> Hips and groin
(To prevent iliotibial band syndrome)

> Abdominal
(To prevent lower back pain)

> Lower back
(To prevent lower back pain)


Anterior leg muscles
(To treat and prevent shin splints)

 
Furniture Lift
From a sitting position, hook your feet under a couch and lift up with your toes, as if you were trying to lift it off the floor. Your legs can be either bent or straight, it doesn't matter. Try ten repeats of ten seconds each.

Foot Press
Either sitting or lying down, put one foot on top of the other and pull up with your lower foot as you push down with the upper foot. Hold that for ten seconds, and then switch feet and repeat. Try five sets of these.


Quadriceps
(To treat and prevent runner's knee)

 
Standing Leg Lifts
Stand with your back against the wall. Lift one leg up as high as you can with the knee straight. Hold for five seconds, then bend your knee to relax, hold for five seconds. Straighten your leg again, and do five of these before switching to the other leg. Over time, see if you can build up to ten seconds.

Foot Turns
Lie down or sit in a chair and stretch both legs out, knees straight and feet pointed up toward the knees. Tighten your thigh muscles and turn your feet out as far as you can, holding for ten seconds. Now turn your feet in as far as you can and hold for ten seconds, keeping your thigh muscles tight for the entire exercise. Do three of these sets.

Foot Press
Either sitting or lying down, put one foot on top of the other and pull up with your lower foot as you push down with the upper foot. Hold that for ten seconds, and then switch feet and repeat. Try five sets of these.


Hips and Groin
(To treat and prevent iliotibial band syndrome)

 
Side Leg Raises
Lie on your side, with your upper leg straight and aligned with your body. Bend your lower leg at the knee. Your lower arm should be under your head and outstretched, aligned with your body. Place the palm of your top hand down in front of your chest for support. Slowly lift the upper leg, leading with the heel, until you've reached as high as you can, then slowly lower it to the starting position. Keep your leg aligned with your body, knee facing forward. Don't let your leg move in front of your body. Do two or three sets of 10 or 20 repeats for each leg.

Inside Leg Raises
Lie on your side, with your bottom leg straight and aligned with your body. Bend your top leg and place your foot on the ground in front of your lower leg. Your bottom arm should be under your head and outstretched, aligned with your body. Slowly raise your bottom leg, leading with the heel, as far as you can and then slowly lower it to starting position. Do two or three sets of 10 or 20 repeats for each leg.


Abdominal Muscles
(To treat and prevent lower back pain)

 
Bent Leg Situps
Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Put your hands behind your head and sit up, exhaling and pulling in your stomach as you sit up. Inhale as you go down. DO NOT jerk your body up. Put your chin on your chest and curl your spine up off the floor. It should be your stomach muscles doing all the work here, not your back. Try to do at least ten of these and gradually (very gradually) build up to fifty.


Lower Back Muscles
(To treat and prevent lower back pain)

 
Knee Lifts
Lie on your back, arms straight down at your sides. Pull your knees up to your chest, then slowly lower your feet back down again. Do ten of these.

 

 

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