Resistance to Change – Runners and Resistance Training

It should be no surprise that the city of Eugene has a lot of runners.  It’s hard to miss the TrackTown moniker on the various buildings and signs throughout town, and it’s even harder to miss all the runners, regardless of the weather.  Running can be a greatly rewarding and enjoyable activity, but runners have a knack for getting injured.  Injury rates are tough to pin down, but there’s some research suggesting that 50% of runners (or more!) get injured on a yearly basis.  For something that’s supposed to keep you healthy, that’s a lot of injuries!

Whether someone just started running or they’ve been running for 30 years, having a foundation of strength is vital for runners to keep themselves injury free.  For whatever reason, different fitness groups (crossfitters, runners, yogis, lifters, etc.)  settle in to different beliefs about “other” kinds of training, generally leading to a dislike or avoidance of those other activities.  For runners, they tend to avoid resistance training.

At face value, it makes sense that runners wouldn’t want to do resistance training.  Resistance training typically leads to muscle gain, and gaining muscle mass should slow someone down and make going the distance that much harder due to the extra weight.  And that’s a fair point.  But smart programming of resistance training doesn’t have to lead to massive gains in muscle size, and can aid in fat loss.  Plus, nobody just wakes up accidentally putting on 10 extra pounds of muscle.

The point is that runners need to do some amount of resistance training to make sure that their hips, spine, shoulders (yes, even the shoulders!), and obviously legs are strong and resilient.  Some general recommendations would be squatting, lunging, and planking, but you probably already knew of those, didn’t you?  Below are some exercises (with links to pictures) worth working into a training schedule at least two times a week on the non-training days.

Resistance Training Exercises for Runners:

  • Bridging – Bridges are a pretty simple exercise on their own, and they’re great at firing up the glutes.  Make sure to hold at the top for a few seconds!  If they seem too easy, how do some marching bridges feel?  How about a single leg bridge?
  • Deadbugs – Despite the awful name, this exercise series is great at waking up the spinal stabilizers.  Make sure you keep your stomach tight, ribs down, and spine pressed back into the ground!
  • Rows – Basically everybody should be doing some amount of rowing, and runners are definitely no exception.  Keeping the shoulders stacked over the hips while running is necessary for long term success, but most people don’t have the necessary strength/endurance in their shoulders to do so over the course of a long run.  Rowing fixes that.  Do some rows.  Use bands, dumbbells, put stuff in a bucket, or load up a backpack, but make sure to do them.

Running is a great way to stay in shape, but not if you keep getting injured.  If you’re a serious runner, these exercises are some of the minimum you should be doing to help prevent those pesky injuries, along with the necessary mobility work to keep the body nice and loose.

Naturally, there are a lot of other exercises and drills to incorporate into a long term running program.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed about where to go, get help!  Physical therapists, running coaches, and personal trainers, especially in Eugene, have worked with runners before and know how to get people back to running!

Got questions?  Feel limited in what you’re able to do?  The staff at Limitless Physical Therapy in Eugene, OR can show you how to be limitless. Contact us to connect with on of our PTs. Or follow us on Facebook.

***The above information, including text, images, and all other materials, is provided for educational purposes only, and not as a replacement or supplement to professional medical advice.  Please contact a certified healthcare professional or your primary physician for any personal concerns.


1: van der Worp MP, ten Haaf DS, van Cingel R, de Wijer A, Nijhuis-van der Sanden MW, Staal JB. Injuries in runners; a systematic review on risk factors and sex differences. PLoS One. 2015 Feb 23;10(2):e0114937. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114937. eCollection 2015. Review. PubMed PMID: 25706955; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4338213.

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