Should Runners Go To The Gym?

Will gym work prevent injuries in runners?

Runner in GymThere has been a large amount of research testing whether regular strength training can prevent injuries for runners. The injuries we mean include muscle tears and achey tendons rather than injuries from contact or falls which are a bit more unpredictable.

The research has shown that strength training sessions 1 to 3 times a week decrease the likelihood of acute and overuse injuries. This is particularly for sports like soccer and volleyball but we are talking about similar injuries across the board. The reason being the stronger you are, the better you recruit more muscle fibres and land softly so your body works like a finely tuned machine.

Will gym work make me faster?

For a long time gym work has been in the realm of power athletes like your sprinters, throwers, and weight lifters but there is good reason to believe that gym work can make a middle and long distance runner faster. Here’s how; distance running performance is traditionally broken down and determined by 3 changeable factors:

  • Running economy: how efficiently you can move using as little energy as possible
  • VO2 Max: how much oxygen you can take in
  • Lactate threshold: the maximum pace you can hold where you are almost unable to take in as much oxygen as your body needs

A 2017 review looked over a whole lot of research and found that for middle and long distance runners, who had been training for over 6 months, gym work did improve running economy. Gym work doesn’t appear to do much for VO2 Max nor for lactate threshold. What is really exciting is that regular strengthening sessions improved the athletes’ time trial performances from 1500m up to 10km compared to those who did no gym work. They didn’t test for any longer distances so we can’t comment on marathon performance just yet.

What sort of gym work then?

Runner Leg PressTo get started there are 3 different types of exercises that will specifically help your running:

  • Heavy resistance training: this is a slow heavy type exercise that fatigues you between 3 and 12 repetitions. For example, squats, lunges, deadlifts, hamstring curls, leg presses, knee extensions, and calf raises.
  • Explosive resistance training: this is similar to heavy resistance training but fatigues you between 1 and 6 repetitions and incorporates a fast pushing, pulling, or lifting part of the movement.
  • Plyometric training: this is a type of exercise where you accelerate through the movement and end up in the air. For example jumping, bounding, and skipping.

Starting with once a week sessions is a smart way to introduce your body to strength training and 3 times a week would be plenty for a runner.

If you’ve got any running injuries you need taken care of or want to make yourself bulletproof for running you can book an appointment to see one of our physios online here.

 

References

Blagrove, R., Howatson, C. & Hayes, G., 2018. Effects of Strength Training on the Physiological Determinants of Middle- and Long-Distance Running Performance: A Systematic Review. Sports Medicine, 48(5), pp.1117–1149.
Lauersen, J.B., Bertelsen, D.M. & Andersen, L.B., 2014. The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48(11), p.871.
Share This:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedin

COPYRIGHT © 2013 - LEADING EDGE PHYSICAL THERAPY, Adelaide, South Australia Website Design by Collective.com.au