ThedaCare Physical Therapist Offers Exercises
Strengthening exercises are important for runners to help ward off lower extremity injuries. Strength training provides stabilization to the joints, teaches the body to slow down and control motion to improve shock absorption, and delays the effects of fatigue. Research shows that weakness of the gluteal muscles (the buttock) is correlated with many lower extremity injuries in runners. Perform the following exercises 3-5 days per week.
BAND WALKING: Stand with a resistance band tied around your ankles. When performing the exercises listed below, maintain tension on the band throughout the exercise.
SIDE STEPPING: Step to the side against the tension of the band. Repeat 10-20 steps to the right and then 10-20 steps to the left.
FORWARD AND BACKWARD STEPPING: Stand with your feet at least shoulder width apart. The band should be on tension. Take a step forward with one leg, keeping the feet wide. Repeat with the opposite leg. Continue to walk forward for 10-20 steps. Return to your starting position by walking backward.
BRAIDING: Stand with your feet hip width apart and tension on the band. Cross your right leg behind your left leg, maintaining the tension on the band. Step your right leg out to the side. Cross your left leg in front of your right leg. Step your right leg out to the side. Repeat this sequence alternating crossing the leg in front and then behind for 10-20 steps. Repeat in the opposite direction for 10-20 steps to return to your starting position.
SQUATS: Stand with your feet just wider than your hips. Your toes, knees, and hip should all point straight ahead. As you bend your knees to squat, keep your toes, knees, and hips pointing straight ahead. Do not let your knees come together. Your knees should not go past your toes. Keep your chest tall and your buttocks down. Repeat 10-20 times and perform three sets.
STATIONARY LUNGES: Stand with your feet staggered and hip width apart. Your toes, knees, and hips should all point straight ahead. Seventy-five percent of your body weight should be over the front leg. Lower your body so that your front thigh becomes almost parallel to the floor. Your knee should not go past your toes and your knee should not fall inward. Return to standing. Repeat 10-20 times. Switch legs. Perform up to three sets.
Amy Flick is a physical therapist with ThedaCare Orthopedic Care.