Strength Training for Endurance

This is a literature review of the benefits of including resistance training into your running or cycling training programme.

Rønnestad 2014

For recreational runners and cyclists, strength training is not always considered important when developing increased pace, endurance and mechanics. But this paper from 3 years supports the involvement of explosive strength training as part of a training program for endurance runners/cyclists. With benefits of improved endurance to muscle fibres when in an anaerobic state, increased tendon stiffness and greater explosive power.

The study went on to find numerous benefits with the addition of strength training. And provided these recommendations.

  1. To improve the chance of increased endurance performance following a strength training program, the resisted exercises should engage similar muscle groups and imitate sport specific movements. This will result in firing up the same neural pathways connected with the motion of running or cycling.
  2. Force output may increase the ground strike in runners or force velocity in cycling if an explosive focus is put on the concentric phase of the muscle. For example pushing fast out of the back squat.
  3. At least 2 sessions per week of strength training to develop maximal strength over a 12 week program. Beginning with lighter loads in the first 3 weeks to learn correct form before increasing load. Working within 8-12 reps and 2-3 sets.

Some beneficial lifts for runners and cyclists would include back squats, dead lifts, hip thrusters and bent over rows.

Abstract

Here we report on the effect of combining endurance training with heavy or explosive strength training on endurance performance in endurance-trained runners and cyclists. Running economy is improved by performing combined endurance training with either heavy or explosive strength training. However, heavy strength training is recommended for improving cycling economy. Equivocal findings exist regarding the effects on power output or velocity at the lactate threshold. Concurrent endurance and heavy strength training can increase running speed and power output at VO2max (Vmax and Wmax , respectively) or time to exhaustion at Vmax and Wmax . Combining endurance training with either explosive or heavy strength training can improve running performance, while there is most compelling evidence of an additive effect on cycling performance when heavy strength training is used. It is suggested that the improved endurance performance may relate to delayed activation of less efficient type II fibers, improved neuromuscular efficiency, conversion of fast-twitch type IIX fibers into more fatigue-resistant type IIA fibers, or improved musculo-tendinous stiffness.

Rønnestad et al (2014). Optimizing strength training for running and cycling endurance performance: A review. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports

21617700_1637509319612971_4403438680384241559_n.jpg

Lunge Hip Mobility

The 2nd part of hip mobility focuses on your lunge shape. Having full access to hip extension will improve your running, throwing and kicking abilities.

This is the second part of the hip series. These hip shapes are positions that we should all be striving for to have confidence and feel safe to function if exposed to complex positions. 

Following on from the blog hip opener for the hinge shape is our next hip position we should try to achieve. The lunge shape is full extension and internal rotation of the hip with the knee positioned behind the hip and foot pointing forwards. This shape is most seen in lifters doing split jerks, kicking a football, ball throwing. But most commonly seeing this lack of range with runners, not utilising the full hip extension in the push off at the end of stance phase.

Over the years adaptive changes happen either through injury or more with positions we adhere to. The most common being sitting, which results in anterior structures of the hip becoming limited. Lacking the end range of this movement could mean we’re selling our self short of momentum, power or endurance.

Running-lunge

Using the picture of long distance runner Mo Farah, he demonstrates a great lunge shape at the hip. While maintaining a neutral spine he manages to reach full hip extension and toes are pointed forwards, maintaining the internal rotation of the hip. Lacking hip extension can compromise running form of the upper limb and spine. But as you can see he reaches a good press shape of the opposite shoulder in the arm swing making his running style extremely efficient and balanced.

Below are a series of stretches and mobility exercises to help improve your lunge shape.

Couch stretch

If hip flexors are tight this is one of the best stretches for improving length back. A long sustained hold of this stretch with full diaphragmatic breathing over 2 minutes is extremely effective.

Illiopsoas Trigger Point Release

This muscle sits within the abdominal cavity and if tight it will feel sore with pressure through the abdominal wall towards the muscle. At first the pain can be quite high but relaxing into the pressure overtime the pain subsides and will feel looser once released. Aim for 1-2 minutes hold.

Hip flexor stretch (with band)

Another hip flexor stretch with a joint mobilisation using a band. Position the knee behind the hip. Allow the band to pull the hip forwards, contract the glutes to get the best anterior hip stretch.

Quads and inner thigh release with LaX ball

A lacrosse ball is a great tool for isolating sections of tight muscle. Rolling on the ball like you would a foam roller will be more effective, if tolerated. Then opening up inner thigh/hip adductors using the kettle bell handle. The knee flexion/extension stretches the muscle through range while being tacked down.

Suspended split stretch

This is for the more adventurous. It will help your lunge go deeper while increase stretch through the hamstrings. Throughout this movement, it is important to keep the glutes switched on to avoid hanging of the hip capsules. Spend around a minute each direction.

Continue reading “Lunge Hip Mobility”

Understanding shin splints

There is no satisfaction without a struggle first

Those that have experienced shin splints know how frustrating it can be to train. Whether it’s running, skipping or box jumping. Pain can be so intense that we stop doing these movements for a short period or permanently out of fear. With shin pain, there are many different factors that cause it. This is why having it assessed and treated appropriately can help you ease back into these activities with more control over symptoms.

  • Shin splints is a vague term used to describe overuse or repetitive strain of structures in the lower leg.
  • In athletics and military, “shin splints” can affect up to 35% and is more prominent with females. (1)

Take a look at the several muscles in the shaft of the lower leg, and the layers we have in our bone.

It’s very easy to label the condition as “shin splints”. But looking at the different structures involved with shin pain a more accurate diagnosis would help direct treatment and management of the problem. Shin pain can also be produced by other conditions.  Another reason to get assessed.

Shin splints (other conditions)

Bony shin splints

The outer layer of bone called the periosteum has a great blood and nerve supply. This makes it a common area for feeling shin pain. When training under normal stresses with adequate rest the density of bone increases which allows us to tolerate running for longer. If stress forces increase with little rest time in between, inflammation and pain develops. Pain ignored for long enough could result in a stress fracture.

Rest period of stress fracture: Depending on the severity and nature of the fracture it may take 4-12 weeks. Having it assessed and possibly X-rayed will help guide the timeframe.

Rest period for inflammation of the bone: This requires a shorter rest time but should be closely monitored to ensure we identify the cause of extra stress to the bone. Usual rest periods will be 4-6 weeks.

Muscular shin splints

Compartments of lower leg.gif

Muscles of the lower leg are held within compartments wrapped up by fascia. During running for example these compartments build up in pressure. As the pressure rises, oxygen levels lower, toxicity builds and then results in pain. A condition known as Exertional Compartment Syndrome (ECS). If ignored this could lead to chronic exertional compartment syndrome which often requires surgery . 

Rest period for ECS: Similar to the inflammation of bone, it may require between 2-6 weeks of rest. In this time, it is about identifying the issues causing the problem and building up a tolerance to the activity.

Tendon shin splints

Tendons are the pulleys of muscles, they connect to specific bony points to cause a movement. Inflammation of the tendon can be cause by excessively loading the tendon . Three tendons that lead to shin related pain are the Achilles, tibialis posterior and the peronei. Most common being tibialis posterior.

Shin splints tendinopathy

The Tibialis posterior muscle supports the arch and if it fails can result in many changes to the foot and ankle. Catching this fault early will allow you to correct the problem easier.

Rest period for a tendinopathy: This really depends on the length of time you’ve suffered, the severity and foot mechanics. Recovery time can take up to 12 weeks. Giving time to offload the tendon and building up stress’ again.

Managing shin splints

As mentioned above, it’s important to make a clear diagnosis to provide adequate rest and adjust back into your activity. Along with normal hands-on therapy and exercise prescription, physio can help shin pain specifically through adjustments made to the following:

  • Training error – over training, excessive distances, change in running surface.
  • Poor foot mechanics – A foot with a high arch or that rolls in poses a higher risk for stress fractures and tendon pathologies when running.
  • Footwear – Shoes lacking adequate arch support for an unstable foot causes muscles/tendons to work harder.
  • Running form – Analysing running form will help identify weak structures and correct poor patterns.
  • Movement and balance control – Good balance at the ankle, knee, hip and a strong “core” of your trunk muscles play vital roles in evenly distributing the force.
  • Muscle flexibility – Tightness of muscles can put excessive load on the tibia while running.
  • Ankle mobility – Increased ankle range of movement with joint mobilisations and stretches can reduce stresses on the lower leg.
  • Muscle strength and endurance – The strength of a muscle helps maintain a good position while running or jumping. But it also requires stamina to repeatedly hold position.

Returning to running

Returning to normal running with shin splints is always an uphill battle and is never a smooth transition. It’s a learning experience, understanding what your body can withstand and tailoring your rehab appropriately. It can be frustrating, but having patience with the process will get you back into your activity.