As you probably know, squats and lunges are known as two of the best strength training exercises you can do for your lower body. Squats and lunges are very useful for runners as they target many “running specific” muscles . So what do you do when lunges and squats are not allowed?
My physical therapist recommended not doing any squats or lunges at this time. Hopefully, once I get my knee back on track I can add lunges and squats back into my routine.
I thought I would share the running specific strengthening exercises that I’m doing for physical therapy. I’m sure they’re are many other options, but these are targeting specific areas that I need to make stronger such as hips, abductors, quadriceps, and calves. It’s important to maintain strength in these areas in order to remain injury free.
Perform all exercises on both right and left sides. I started out doing them two times per day, but now once per day. Eventually, I will perform them a few times per week.
Straight Leg Raise:
Tighten your muscles and lift leg and hold for 20 sec, then pulse 10 times. Do 5 sets per leg. This was extremely difficult for me when I first began. It’s finally getting easier. The progression of this is to either add an ankle weight or hold leg lift longer.
Using an anchored band around your ankle, extend leg out. 30 reps per side
Lie on your side with knees bent 90 degrees, slowly lift top knee toward ceiling keeping your heels together. I put an exercise band above my knees to add resistance. 30 reps
Monster Walk with band:
I recently added this exercise as it is a progression from the clam shell. Place band above knees. Start in a slight squat and step out to the right and bring left leg in towards right and repeat. 30 reps
“Runner’s Lunge” Hip Flexion:
Place an exercise band around your right ankle and anchor the band (I use my treadmill!). Start in a runner’s lunge with your right leg behind you then bring right knee up to hip level. 30 reps. You can also use an ankle weight instead of the band.
Stand on step. Lower left heel and “explode” up with both feet. Rise on balls of feet. 30 reps per side. Add weights as you are able. The first time I did this, my calves were sore for 3 days!
Balance on one leg with eyes closed. Hold for 20 seconds. 4 times per leg. You could also use an unstable surface, like a pillow, to make even more challenging.
Stability Ball Curl:
Lie on your back and place lower legs on top of stability ball. Feet should be lined up with your hips. Contract abs, lift hips off floor and slowly pull the ball towards your hips. This is great for your hamstrings as well as your core. Perform 30 reps.
These exercises will definitely help strengthen the areas needed to run strong as well as correcting any imbalances. My goal is to remain injury free and run for as long as my body allows me. Try adding these to your routine a few times per week!
Have a great weekend!