Powerful Running: 5 Ways to Improve Strength and Form to Reach Your Next PR

When you watch a powerful runner, it is the perfect combination of grace and strength. It seems some people are just born with the ability to run with ease. The truth is they work hard for it and overcome many obstacles along the way.

Pain or injury is the most common obstacle, with over 70% of runners experiencing injury in any given year. The high rate for this sport comes from a combination of overuse, poor form, weakness, and lack of proper training prior to starting a program.

Are you ready for your days of slow or painful running to be over? What has to happen to transform you into a powerful runner, even if injury has gotten in your way? Here are five tips to get you started:

  1. Strength Training

It’s a myth that strength training will make you bulky or slow you down as an endurance athlete. It actually improves speed and reduces injury. The most common weakness found in runners is in the gluteal muscles. The result is poor form, overusing back muscles, and subsequent knee pain. Running-specific strength-training exercises for the glutes are proven to help you reach your next PR.

  1. Incorporate Plyometrics

Running places up to five times your body weight of force on every step. This can quickly breakdown joints and tendons. Although proper footwear is important, shock absorption is almost more than your shoes. Plyometric exercises can actually better prepare the body to take on these forces without injury.

  1. Optimize Stride Length

Many runners land with their foot too far in front of their body (called overstriding). This creates increased pressure at the low back, hips, knees, and ankles. You can add power and efficiency to your stride with practice. Think about landing softer and trying to increase your cadence to bring your landing contact closer to the center of your body.

  1. Control the Knees

Efficient running involves the coordination of the lower body joints to produce optimal power. Landing with the knee forward of the toes or collapsing inward disrupts this necessary balance. Ideally, the knee should face forward and remain slightly behind the toes. This coordinated movement stores energy for running propulsion. Even a minor misalignment impacts performance.

  1. Evaluate Form

The best way to improve running form, decrease pain, and optimize efficiency is to be evaluated by a specialist. Specific movement errors can be pinpointed throughout the various phases of the running cycle. Additionally, muscle imbalances can be addressed and a specific program can be established to reach your goals without requiring time off from training.

Running really is a complex movement that requires a great deal of strength and control. No matter where you start from you can become a more powerful runner. These strategies have proven to work for athletes at Peak Potential.

Physical therapists are experts at improving and restoring movement in people’s lives. They help runners improve performance, speed recovery, and keep running when pain arises.

Contact Peak Potential with any questions or for more information about our Specialized Running Performance and Recovery Programs by e-mailing trevor@peakpotentialpt.com or calling 901.316.5456.

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