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Strength & Mobility Training for Runners

“Don’t run to get in shape, you must get in shape to run.” – Diane Lee

Activities like walking and running are very approachable ways to get in shape. It does not require much equipment or special knowledge to simply go outside and take a walk or go for a run.

But as the above quote from Diane Lee (a world-renowned physical therapist who has worked with the Canadian Olympic team) demonstrates, running is not an activity that you should jump into without first assessing whether or not you’re physically prepared.

While running and walking are great activities to help you get in shape or maintain your fitness, it’s not always a great idea to just jump into them without first making sure you are well-prepared.

One way to ensure that you’re prepared to maintain a pain-free running or walking routine is to get yourself in the proper footwear.

But the other side of preparedness is to do some assessments of your strength & movement ability.

Many folks do not realize the movement limitations they may have. Sure, general strength is a factor. However, things like proper alignment, motor control & stability around the joints, and adequate mobility all play a role in keeping you healthy while increasing your mileage.

Why is it so important to assess and train all these physical qualities? 

If you think about running and the stress it places on the body, it starts to make more sense. For some, running may not seem like much. However, running is a plyometric exercise. It’s like jumping from one foot onto the other… repeatedly!

During running, your body can take on ground reaction forces up to 6-8x your bodyweight. If you combine that large increase in stress on your joints with the fact that running is repetitive by nature, then you can get a picture of just how much stress is placed on the body during a simple run.

Understanding the forces placed on your body when running makes it more clear why you need to think about getting your body in shape to run, instead of using running as your sole fitness activity.

In addition to the forces that are placed on the body in a repetitive nature while running, both running and walking are activities that are limited in both the range of motion that is required and the type of movement that is utilized.

One of the key principles in designing a proper exercise routine is that you should expose the body to a rich proprioceptive environment. That’s just a fancy way to say that you should include a variety of movements, planes of motion, and stimuli to the body during training.

In the same way that you would want to diversify your investment portfolio, you also want to diversify your movement portfolio.

When you don’t have enough diversity in your movement, you are much more at risk for overuse injuries. You are also more prone to acute injuries, which can happen in a one-time event that places your body in a position that it’s not used to being in.

But, if you train your body to move through a variety of planes of movement, with gradually increasing range of motion, and progressively increasing resistance, you will be better prepared to not only handle the stresses of walking or running but also whatever life may throw at you.

How to Include Strength & Mobility Training in Your Routine

The first step when thinking about beginning a strength and mobility routine is to assess your movement ability for potential compensations, alignment issues, or weaknesses.

At The Med Gym, we use the Functional Movement Screen as the first step in determining your movement ability. From this simple screen, we can tailor a training routine that is specifically targeted at your unique movement. We can work on eliminating movement restrictions and improving movement quality.

From there, we can begin to build a routine that will target your weaknesses while increasing your strengths.

We then focus on incorporating a consistent routine of foam rolling to work on soft tissue quality; mobility and stability exercises targeted to your unique needs; and strength training that encompasses the major movement patterns of the body.

This approach to training allows us to develop a routine that is both defensive and offensive.

The defensive side of the routine ensures you are doing the things necessary to work on your movement and strength limitations to lessen your risk of future injury.

The offensive side of the routine is where we focus on improving your strength, function, and performance to make you more efficient and effective at your activity of choice – whether it’s walking, running, or anything else.

So, if you want to lower your risk of injury and increase your performance, including a strength and mobility routine geared to your unique movement ability is crucial.

And if you want help doing just that, we have a great offer for you!

We’re taking on a few new semi-private training clients at The Med Gym in April, and we’re offering a special discount of just $49 for 4 weeks of training.

As part of this offer, you’ll get a Functional Movement Screen and 2x/week semi-private training for 4 weeks at The Med Gym. This special offer of $49 for 4 weeks includes over $125 in savings!

Spots are limited, and this offer will expire on 4/15. So, if you’re interested in getting your strength & mobility routine started today, then you can contact us here, and put “ARC Special Offer” in the subject line.

Our goal at The Med Gym is to help you Move Better, Feel Better, Live Better, and Perform Better!

We hope to see you soon!

David Drinks

P.S. Here is what a couple of runners that I work with at the gym had to say about the program at The Med Gym:

I started running seriously in my mid-50s to address a health issue. I worked up to running a few marathons, but my true love was running trail ultra races (>26.2 miles). Unfortunately, I suffered a lot of injuries…various foot injuries, IT band, hamstring strains, etc. I started working with David following the 2016 Boston Marathon. I was frustrated because I ran the entire race in pain from an ongoing injury. I knew I had to work on making my body stronger and more mobile in order to avoid future injuries.

After working with David on a consistent basis I remained healthy which enabled me to increase my training load considerably. My increased training, strength, and mobility lead to successful racing in 2016 and 2017. Highlights include winning a six-hour timed race at age 60 and taking 6th place overall in my first 100-mile race at age 61. Unfortunately, I lost close to two years of running due to Lyme disease. However, with David’s help, I regained my strength and mobility which has resulted in winning my age group in every ultra race since recovering from Lyme, including the largest ultra in the US; the JFK 50 Mile. I also went on to set PRs at 50K, 50 Miles, and 100 Miles.  

I highly recommend working with David to assess your current strength and mobility so that he can design a program to help you gain the necessary strength and mobility needed to avoid injury. Running injury-free leads to consistency, which is one of the biggest factors impacting running performance.  

– Rick Martin

I have been going to the Med Gym for several years now. As a long-distance runner, I feel that strength and mobility are key components to staying healthy. David has been able to tailor my workouts specifically to my goals depending on where I am in my training cycle. I am able to communicate with him and he really takes the time to create a program that works on what I need to be strong and healthy.

A few years ago I had an ankle injury that David helped me work through. After PT sessions with Cardin and Miller my therapist communicated with David to safely progress my workouts until I was able to run again. I truly feel this combination helped me recover faster. Afterward, I was able to complete my first 100-mile race. I know I was able to stay healthy through this intense training cycle thanks to the mobility and strength work from David’s program.

I would highly recommend The Med Gym to any runner or athlete. All the trainers are extremely helpful and will answer your questions on how to train properly. Chris and Brian are very knowledgeable as well! These are the tools we need to stay healthy and strong besides putting in the miles. Your goals will be achieved with the Med Gym as part of your team!

– Linda Reilly

About the author

David Drinks is part-owner of The Med Gym and one of the coaches on staff. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Level 2 Certified in the Functional Movement Screen, and certified in the Fundamental Capacity Screen.

David graduated from DeSales University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sport & Exercise Science. He has worked at The Med Gym ever since 2014, helping individuals from all walks of life learn to Move Better, Feel Better, Live Better, and Perform Better.