Your trail running strength program: Three key strength exercises for trail running
Stay strong on the trails. Develop ankle, knee and core strength to reduce your risk of injury while you have fun running on the trails this summer.
Developing strength for off-road running can significantly decrease your chance of injury because your body will have developed receptors to switch on when your ankle starts to roll. These receptors respond to changes in movement. Their function is to alert your muscles and tendons to respond correctly to these sudden changes. This is called proprioceptive feedback. When you are on the trail and the ground is uneven you want to feel stable and strong so that you don’t roll an ankle or even fall.
You can make your receptors work better
Training the receptors in your tendons to respond faster is possible. In fact, with a small routine of exercises, you can make significant improvements over a short period of weeks. FIFA has an excellent pre-training exercise program called FIFA 11+ that they developed after much research that proved the effectiveness of pre-game and pre-training exercises. The success of this program reduced the number of injuries of their athletes.
Netball Australia has also developed a pre-game and training exercise protocol which focuses on spatial awareness, reaction time and speed. The basis of these programs is all-around developing proprioceptive strength so that in moments of instability or even knocks, the players are less likely to have a significant injury.
It is the same for you on the trails
Trails are not even like the road. There are holes, rocks and sticks that move under your feet as you run. There are sudden bumps that can throw you off balance or make your joints roll out of their normal range. Plus, when you start to fatigue after all those glorious hills, your ability to maintain stability is compromised. This is where your proprioceptive and strength training kicks in.
Stiff joints and hypermobile joints need a little bit of extra work
If you have stiff feet and joints or are the opposite and quite flexible due to hypermobility the response time for your receptors can be slower. This slowness is because the receptors don’t get trained to respond as they are not being activated with a ‘normal’ range of movement.
Luckily, as mentioned above, you can train them to respond and this is why a strength and exercise program is ideal.
Exercises for trail running strength
To help you stay strong on the trails and enjoy the summer season, our running podiatry and physiotherapy team have developed a strength protocol. This focuses on the three main areas that you need for stability while running on the trails:
- Knees: quad and hamstrings
- Core strength: hip, glutes and trunk
We have designed the program so that it does not take too long to do, but really gives you what you need to reduce the chance of injury. Nothing is completely preventable, but with a plan at least you can minimise the risk.
To get you started we have a download of 3 key exercises taken from our “Trail Running Exercise Plan”. These are a great snapshot you can use to start your trail running strength program.
To be really sure you have a good plan in place, you should BOOK IN to see our podiatry and physiotherapy team. We’ll take you through the plan which you can use over and over again at home. Plus we can customise it to suit your strengths, weaknesses, and experience of trail running.
If you know that you are prone to injuries and really want to join your friends on the trails this season, then this program is a must. It will give you so much more confidence to run freely and happily.
Get the Complete “Trail Running Strength Plan” from our Running Injury Podiatry and Physiotherapy Team.