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Exercises to Strengthen your Natural Running Form

A basic running form focuses on taking smaller strides, the arm drive, change of posture. Lately the trend is to focus more on embracing your natural gait and running form. To try and make immediate biomechanical and gait changes can do more harm than good, it can even affect the oxygen use less efficiently than when the way it feels right. Too often, runners who are forced to make drastic immediate running form changes tend to get hurt. The ideal running form for one person can be very different than someone else. What affects our running form individually is body mass, shape, height, past injuries, so we have to focus more on a personalized running form by building up the essential muscles. When our running form is slightly off-gaits, we need to focus on strengthening the muscles that will help our body’s version of proper form over time without getting injured. Another important way to run smart is to find the proper shoes that fit our pronation and protect our feet. Doing a muscle strengthening session twice a week on non-run or easy days will have several benefits. 

Muscles to Strengthen

1. Gluteus Maximus: Hip-flexor dominant runners tend to over-stride, reaching their legs too far in front of their body with each step. Not only does this increase the risk of injury by increasing the pressure on the knee, it also slows down your pace. Shorter, faster strides powered by the gluteus maximus are more efficient and help you run pain-free. Exercises: Hip thrusts, single-leg bridge, single-leg squats, dumbbell deadlifts.

2. Transverse Abs-Obliques: When you run, you should stay upright with your pelvic perpendicular to the spine. A strong core helps keep everything in line while giving your lungs plenty of space for deep diaphragmatic breaths. These exercises, force your body to resist the pressure pull, teaching your body to stay stable through every step. Exercises: Dead bugs, bird dogs, side planks (reach under, star, knee tap), low planks (rainbow, knee to elbow), stability ball roll-outs.

3. Middle and Lower Traps, Lats (middle side back muscles), Rhomboids (upper middle back muscles): While running, swinging your arms left and right is a sign of upper body fatigue and can lead to unnecessary twisting of the torso. It also wastes energy, with the efforts being split between forward and side to side motion. Strengthening muscles in the back and shoulders helps drive the arms forward and back to propel you forward.  Exercises: Static crab hold in tabletop, rear-delt flys, lat pulldowns.

4. Hamstrings: To improve the running cadence and avoid overstressing the lower body, you need to actively engage the hamstrings. Every time your foot strikes the ground, the hamstrings should help pull the foot up behind you, almost as if you’re about to perform butt kicks.  Exercises: Hip bridges, stability ball hamstring curls, TRX hamstring curls, slide reverse lunge.

Perform:8-10 Reps and 4-5 Sets for each exercise

By strengthening these essential muscles, your running form will improve following your body type and natural form to prevent injuries, increase your speed and performance. 

Train Well, Eat Right, Feel Great!