Injuries & How to Prevent Them: Part 4
STRENGTH TRAINING FOR INJURY PREVENTION
Strength training (explosive and/or heavy weight) improves long-distance running performance and/or running economy (Yamamoto et al. 2008). After his team won the 2006 High school cross country, the coach said that he knew they could run in the mud because of our strength training. There is little doubt that strength training improves running, that’s why all top level athletes include strength work in there training routine. In a further study of masters athletes (>35 years of age) running economy improvements as a result of strength training were similar to those of much younger athletes (Piacentini, M, 2013).
In a meta-analysis Lauersen et al. (2013) found that strength training reduced sports injuries to less than 1/3 and overuse injuries by half. Proprioception training also had positive results whereas no benefits were noted to stretching before or after exercise.
There is an area of concern with strength training, and that is the cross over effect. This is when the ratio of strength raining to endurance training can affect the endurance training in the short term. Fernandez et al. (2015) suggests that 30% of the training sessions being strength training eliminates this effect, however, a minimum of two strength sessions a week is needed to attain decent strength improvements.
A strength-training program consisting of 2-4 resistance exercises at 40-70% 1-RM (1 rep max, the most you can lift once) without reaching failure, plus plyometric exercises performed 2-3 times per week for an overall 3:1 endurance:strength training elicits the best results. Just as in running training where a periodised programme works to provide peak performance at the right time, the same works for strength training. Strength training has a number of elements that produce different types of result. A programme of general strength training, following some maximum strength, strength endurance and strength power ending at the right time for peak performance and in conjunction with the endurance programme is the ideal model.
In addition to improving running economy and reducing risk of injuries, strength training also has positive benefits in our daily activities, especially as we age. From the age of 40 our muscle mass begins to decrease, as does bone density. Strength training while not reversing this does slow it down and reduces the risk of falls and fractures as we age.
Running economy also improves with strength training, Johnson et al. (1997) showed that female endurance runners who included strength training improved their running economy compared to those who only ran. At the same time they found that there was no real change in VO2 max or body composition, so ladies, don't worry that lifting weights will give you unwanted muscles.
Don’t jump straight in with big weights hoping for fast results, sorry it doesn’t work that way! Before loading with weight, it is important to be able to control your own body weight. Before doing any single leg exercises make sure you can do them on double leg first. Body weight squats before front squats or back, body weight squats before single leg squats. Suspension trainer (e.g. TRX) are a great way to begin doing bodyweight exercises and can be used at home if you don’t like the gym.
Some good exercises to start with:
Legs: Squats; Lunges; step ups;
Back: TRX row, Pull ups
Chest: Press ups
Core: Deadbugs; crunches; leg raises; Glute bridge
As you get stringer it is important to add weight, the way we get stringer is by the overload principle, if you can do 3 sets of 10 reps and you can’t do 2 more that’s good. If 3 sets of 10 is easy and you could easily do another set then add more reps. If you’re doing 3 sets of 15 reps add more weight and go back to 8-10 reps. This is overload, at this point your muscles recognise that they need to be stronger to what you want them to do so they increase the number of fibres.
If injuries occur because the loading capacity exceed the tissue tolerance, then it makes sense to increase the tissue tolerance, this is done through strength training. There are different methods to strength training (% of 1RM number of sets & reps for max strength or strength endurance etc) but I won’t go that far in this blog.
In part 5 we will look at running form and technique
Johnson, R., Quinn, T., Kertzer, R. & Vroman, N. (1997). Strength Training in Female Distance Runners: Impact on Running Economy. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 11(4)
Laursen, J., Bertelsen, D. & Andersen, L. (2013). The Effectiveness of Exercise Interventions to Prevent Sports Injuries: A systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials. British Journal of Sports Medicine 48(11)
Piacentini, M., Ioannon, G., Comotto, S., Spedicato, A., Vernillo, G. & Torre, A. (2013). Concurrent Strength and Endurance Training Effects of Running Economy in Mastes Endurance Runners. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 27(8): 2295-2303
Yamamoto, L., Lopez, R., Klau, J., Casa, D., Kraemer, W & Maresh, C. (2008). The Effects of Resistance Training on Endurance Running Performance Among Highly Trained Runners: A Systematic Review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 22(6): 2036-2044