Running is a great form of exercise that helps with both mental and physical health. There’s nothing better than hitting your stride and letting that runners high set in as you add miles to your workout. Running not only releases endorphins but also helps keep your body in great shape. Whether you are new to running or have been running for a while you know that unfortunately as wonderful as the sport is, it can also sometimes cause injury at times.
The good news is that there are preventative exercises you can do to help ensure that injuries rarely occur when you are running. Stretching is of course one of the best things that you can do both before and after a run, but using resistance bands while stretching helps make sure that you’re targeting specific muscle groups. When you use resistance bands to target the muscle groups used most during your runs, you are not only getting quality stretching in but you are also working to prevent future running injuries.
Resistance Band Exercise #1: Side Steps
When using a resistance band to help prevent injuries, the goal is to strengthen the muscles around some of the most used tendons and joints when running. A knee injury is one of the most common that occurs among runners. In order to help protect your knees, you want to strengthen the muscles around them such as your quads and glutes. Squats are a great way to strengthen these muscles, but using a resistance band when doing squats takes it to the next level.
A side step exercise uses the resistance band while squatting to target your leg muscles. To complete a side step exercise with your resistance band, step into the band so that it is wrapped around both knees. Then slightly squat and take a step to the side. You want to complete 10 steps per side and then repeat the same side for a total of 2-3 sets.
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Don’t get discouraged if these feel challenging, as they are meant to be hard! If you stay consistent with side step exercises using your resistance band, you will not only have strong quad and glute muscles, you will also be protecting your knees for when you go out for your next run.
Resistance Band Exercise #2: Shoulder Circles
One aspect that is often overlooked when running is tension that is being held in the upper back and shoulders. Form is key when it comes to running, and stretching your muscles before and after your run helps you focus on form. Loosening the muscles before you run is a helpful option to prevent potential injuries as well.
Shoulders can be hard to stretch so using resistance bands can help get the maximum stretch possible. Before beginning with shoulder circles, take a few minutes to stretch your arms across your side and behind your back. Shoulders are often tight and need as much stretching as possible.
To start with shoulder circles, take a resistance band in both hands and move your hands to your side. Keeping tension in the band, lift the resistance band over your head and behind your shoulders. Bring your hands back over your head and back down to your side, maintaining tension on the band the entire time. Repeat this movement for a minimum of three sets of ten. Doing this exercise both before and after a run is best to get the maximum impact.
Resistance Band Exercise #3: Romanian Deadlifts
Romanian deadlifts are an efficient form of exercise that targets multiple muscle groups at once. If you have ever done any strength training, you know how important deadlifts can be in a lift rotation as they increase muscle mass quickly. Deadlifts are a great option for building strength and focusing on form, which is important when you are a runner. Using a resistance band to complete deadlifts will help target your hamstrings, quads and back muscles all at once.
When getting set up for a romanian deadlift, step your feet about hip distance apart. Then place one side of the resistance band underneath your feet. With both hands, grab the other side of the band and bend your knees slightly. You want to make sure you set your back when starting a deadlift as rounding your back can cause you to pull a muscle. From the starting position, lift the resistance band and stand tall. Repeat this movement 10 times for 3 sets.
Resistance Band Exercise #4: Leg Lift Plank
Since your core is one of the most important parts of your muscle groups to keep fit when it comes to running and your form, plank is a great exercise to use when stretching for runs. Instead of a traditional plank, incorporating a leg lift with a resistance band will target even more muscles used for when you run.
Before getting into the plank position, place the resistance band around your lower legs a little above your ankles. Then get into plank position, making sure your back is straight and you are using your forearms. Keeping your body straight and your core tight, lift one leg up as far as it can go and then lower back down. Repeat 10 times for each leg for 3 sets. Once you are finished with this exercise it is helpful to do a quick hamstring and quad stretch to loosen the muscles even more.
Investing in a quality set of resistance bands is a great thing to do as a runner. You will use them often to complete exercises to keep your body toned and limber to prevent potential injuries. Remember to stretch both before and after runs and to take your time stretching. Running works a lot of muscles at an intense rate and the muscles need time and care to recover. Taking the time to perform resistance band exercises before you run means that when you hit the pavement you can be confident your body is tuned and ready to go.