This routine can help strengthen your bones, tendons and fascia.
“A Runner’s Guide to Connective Tissue” explains the importance of building the strength of your connective tissue – your bones, tendons and fascia – in order to be a less injury-prone runner.
Resistance tubing or band exercises for the hips and lower legs build strength to help runners maintain stability throughout the course of runs and protect against connective tissue injuries from the hips to the toes. It’s important to use tubing or bands that provide the correct resistance for your fitness. The TheraBand tubing and bands shown in these exercises employ eight colour-coded levels of resistance. Always allow at least two to three minutes of recovery between exercises.
Resistance bands allow you to improve all types of connective tissue, particularly fascia and tendons. Try wobble board exercises for a more challenging workout.
Side steps are a good workout for strengthening and stabilising your hip abductors. Most chronic lower-leg connective tissue injuries have their genesis in weak hips. Either resistance tubing or a resistance band can be used for this exercise.
Step 1: Loop the resistance tubing either above your knees (least resistance), below your knees (medium resistance) or around your ankles (greatest resistance, as shown). Bend your knees slightly with your feet hip-width apart.
Step 2: Step to the side until the tubing provides significant resistance (to the point you can reasonably go). Then slide your pivot foot over to re-create your original stance. Now repeat this sidestepping movement for three to six metres in one direction, and then reverse direction. Gradually add distance.
Monster walking works your hip flexors, extensors and abductors, providing a great all-around strengthening workout for your hips. Either resistance tubing or a resistance band can be used for this exercise.
Step 1: Loop the band above your knees for less resistance or below (as shown) for more. Bend your knees slightly, with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your arms loose at your sides.
Step 2: Step forward and to the side at a 45 degree angle, keeping the bend in your knees. Step forward and to the opposite side at a 45 degree angle. Walk for three to six metres. Slowly increase the distance.
Walkouts and jogouts provide good overall kinetic-chain training, especially for knees.
Step 1: Fasten low-resistance tubing to a door anchor, knob or other secure object. Fasten the opposite ends to a belt looped around your waist. Face away from the anchor.
Step 2: Walk or jog a few strides forward until the resistance interrupts your stride. Then allow the loop to pull you back as you walk/jog backward to your starting position. Repeat until fatigued (never push through pain).
Backward walkouts and jogouts continue the strengthening work for the knee (especially the ACL).
Step 1: Fasten low-resistance tubing to a door anchor, knob or other secure object. Fasten the opposite ends to a belt looped around your waist. Face toward the anchor.
Step 2: Walk or jog a few strides backward until the resistance interrupts your stride. Facing the same direction, allow the loop to pull you back to your starting position. Repeat until fatigued (never push through pain).
Hip adduction strengthening is often overlooked by runners, but it’s important to balance hip abduction strength with adduction training. This exercise will help keep your hips stable through your full stride and during foot strike.
Step 1: Secure a resistance band to an anchor or other secure object at ankle level. While standing, loop the band around your anchor-side leg, just above the ankle, with your opposite foot positioned slightly back. Hold on to a secure object for balance.
Step 2: Keeping your knee straight, pull your leg inward, across your opposite leg. Slowly return to the starting position. Continue until fatigued (never push through pain with this exercise), then switch sides and repeat.
Ankle dorsiflexion (angling your foot toward your shin) training is great for preventing front shin splints (pain along the outside of your shins).
Step 1: Sit on the floor with one leg extended in front of you, the other bent at the knee. Attach the resistance band around the top of your foot and anchor to a secure object. If desired, place a towel beneath your Achilles. Start in the toe-forward position.
Step 2: Pull your foot backward toward your shin. When you reach maximum dorsiflexion, slowly return your foot to its original position. Continue until fatigued (never push through pain with this exercise), then switch sides and repeat.
This is the best exercise for preventing and treating medial shin splints (pain along the inside of your shins).
Step 1: Sit in a chair with one end of the resistance band secured to an anchor or other secure object at ankle level. Loop the band’s other end around the arch side (inside) of your foot.
Step 2: Keep your knee straight as you pull your foot inward, limiting motion to your lower leg. When your foot reaches its maximum range of motion, slowly return to your starting position. Continue until fatigued (never push through pain with this exercise), then switch sides and repeat.