Running is a common physical activity for both recreational and competitive athletes, as it is easy to access, with little need for equipment, and serves as a great form of exercise. Unfortunately, running is often associated with a higher yearly rate of injury. While you’re more likely to encounter overuse injuries if your training volume is higher, there are also some individualized risk factors that may predispose you to higher chances of being injured. Everything from how much rest and recovery you get after your runs, to your running mechanics and gait pattern, can dictate injury likelihood. Thankfully, most running injuries can be managed conservatively, and be treated with regular exercise.
Exercises Achilles and hamstring injuries are primarily treated with eccentric exercise, while IT Band Syndrome and patellafemoral pain (pain behind the kneecap) can improve with regular strengthening of leg and core muscles. Here is a short list of exercises which can be used to help strengthen the leg muscles, and work to treat the most common running related injuries:
Stand on a flat surface with legs hip width apart and correct posture. Slowly raise and lower heels with control. For a deeper stretch, put the balls of your feet on a ledge and hang your heel off the ledge. Do the same exercise going as low as you can while remaining comfortable.
Single Leg Squat
Stand on one leg on a flat surface, keeping correct posture and your arms straight in front of you. With your other leg extended in front of you, slowly lower into a squat as deep as is comfortable for you, and then return to the starting position. Repeat on the other leg. A chair or bench under your bottom is optional for stability.
Stand on a flat surface with legs hip width apart and maintain correct posture. Take a large step either forward or backwards and bend knees so that the back leg is at a 90 degree angle and the knee remains slightly lifted off the floor. The front knee should stay right on top of the front foot and keep your hand on your hips. Weights are optional for strength training.
Sit on your knees on a comfortable surface such as a yoga mat with a straight back and arms by your side. You will want to tuck your heels under something that will keep them on the ground or you can have a partner hold them down. Slowly lower your body down to the ground keeping your body straight like a board from your knees to the top of your head. Go as low as you can without falling to the ground and lift back up to the starting position. You can keep your hands in front of you to catch yourself if you go too far.
Spencer McPhedran, Practicum Student Jun 25 File… Arnold MJ, Moody AL. Common Running Injuries: Evaluation and Management. Am Fam Physician. 2018;97(8):510-516.