Are there any strength exercises to improve running form and posture?

There has been some debate regarding the utilization of resistance training for performance enhancement in competitive running. The reason for this debate is lack of sport specific programming in traditional training methods. Traditional resistance training methods generally utilize many machines that “isolate” muscles in order to promote lean muscle growth. Functional resistance training methods do the opposite of isolation exercise. Their focus is on teaching the nervous system to properly use muscles synergistically as you do in the actual activity of running.

Let’s take a look at the biomechanics of running. Running utilizes several muscles firing simultaneously through three different mechanisms of muscles; reducing forces, stabilizing joints, and producing forces. All are carried out through multiple planes of motion including rotation. The problem with traditional training is that it focuses only on the production of force in an isolated muscle and only does so in one plane of motion. This is why it is not very effective in enhancing running performance.

Recent research shows us there is a much better way to train runners. The way I am referring to is functional resistance training. This approach mimics the biomechanical movements of running and focuses on training movements not isolating muscles. In fact, nearly every exercise will involve the recruitment of multiple muscles at a given time in multiple mechanisms of muscle use. Most of these exercises will be performed in a standing position utilizing the core to stabilize postures; while leg muscles are firing to produce and reduce force with each repetition. Examples of functional training and corrective exercises that assist in running efficiency include: walking lunges, single leg squat and reaches, single leg biking movements, single leg backpedaling, single leg torso rotation, ball bridges, tube walking, step-ups, and multi-planar plyometrics. All of these exercises focus on corrective exercise to alleviate dysfunction and muscle imbalances.
Running form and posture can be improved a number of ways. The two main reasons for poor form and posture are biomechanical weaknesses in major body areas (feet, hamstrings, quadriceps, and core) and poor mechanics or coaching. Both problems can be corrected with strengthening exercises, drills, and proper coaching (running knowledge). The athlete with poor form must be tested for flexibility and strength issues in various body parts (feet, calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, groin, and core) to determine what is contributing to the biomechanical problems. Once the problem areas are determined, they can be treated. For example, if you determine the athlete has very tight hip flexors and hamstrings along with a weak core,  hurdle walks with a medicine ball overhead would help rectify the problem by strengthening the core and hip flexor regions while loosening the groin and hamstring areas. A yoga or pilates class can also help with specific flexibility and strength issues. Lunges with a medicine ball and twist can help strengthen the core and stretch the hamstrings. Once these biomechanical weaknesses are addressed, proper form and posture should be more easily attainable.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.