Importance of Lateral Exercises for Runners

Importance of Lateral Exercises for Runners

Performance training programs for runners have changed over the past decade.  Today’s best runners have shifted from logging just their hours, to organizing medium and long runs with cross-training and mobility sessions.  Lateral movement-based exercises need to be added to every runner’s training regiment.  Linear athletes, like runners are prone to overusing the quadriceps and various types of injuries may result like ‘runner’s knee’ (patellofemoral pain), achilles tendinitis and IT Band Syndrome.  Although it is not possible to fully prevent injuries from happening, lateral based exercises can mitigate the opportunity for these types of injuries to occur.  

Lateral-based movements should be added to a running program, either as a core section of your cross-training day, or as a part of your daily active dynamic warmup which is performed before a run.  The core and glut-complex are critical for pelvic stability. It is important that the glut-complex is ‘fired-up’ to strike a balance of muscle use during a linear run.  REACT, Physical Therapist, Melissa Luety points out that the," two primary functions of the glutes that are crucial in running: helping you extend your hip, and stabilizing you in single leg stance.”  
 
There are several great write-ups on lateral exercises to improve strength of the lateral portion of the leg.   Luety has a great blog on other exercises you can easily add to your program to help round out your training.  Brennan Cox, Director of the Parisi Speed School in Chicago offers 4 exercises that can also improve conditioning while provide progressions for runners who are looking for relevant movement challenges.  I love these four exercises because they can easily be built into amazing interval work and even be combined with linear running intervals.  
The four  exercises included are:
  • X-walks (banded lateral movement)
  • Lateral skips with strong arm action
  • Lateral shuffle with resistance
  • Lateral moving dynamic stretch kicks

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