Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Are Endurance Sports Making You Weaker?

Written By: Kraig Erickson

Unless you are supplementing with some resistance training the answer is, probably yes.  Up to your 30’s it is easy to continue to maintain or increase muscle mass.  Sometime after 30 the pendulum swings and we start to lose lean muscle.  Resistance training can help to maintain current muscle mass and address weaknesses. Many endurance athletes have for years avoided strength training for fear of getting big and having that extra weight to carry over distance.  This is not the type of training I am talking about.  If you are an endurance athlete over the age of 30 and do not currently do any strength training, I guarantee that you have some weaknesses and it is these weaknesses that are most likely to be the root of your next injury.

I am a 43 year-old triathlete who also runs some ultras and participates in ultra distance swimming events.  I have been a fitness professional and multisport coach for almost 10 years.   Strength training has always been a part of my training but when I started my education as a personal trainer, functional movement screener and triathlon coach I learned that strength training was so much more than bench press and squats (although they can still be very helpful).  As I trained for my second and then third Ironman distance triathlon I found that I kept getting injured with common running overuse injuries.   My list is probably similar to what many of you have experienced, IT Band, Achilles tendonitis, Tibialis Posterior Tendonitis, etc. What I discovered is that although I was strong and fit I had/have a weak right hip and that was my Kryptonite.  Once I adjusted my training to
address my weakness, I was able to stay healthy and increase volume with little or no incident of injury (we all get dinged up once in awhile).  This is an ongoing process.   I need to constantly stay on top of the exercises that address my weakness.  When I stop doing them I quickly notice little changes to my gait and those little injuries will start to surface.   As we age some things are no longer optional, warm up, cool down, foam rolling, and strength training to name a few.

Let’s talk about running after all this is the FootZone blog and the majority of it’s readers are runners.  Let me be clear this applies to most endurance sports as most of them are very linear and repetitive in motion. Running makes you really good at running and moving in a straight line with an occasional sweeping curve.  Even if you are a trail runner the majority of your time is spent moving in a straight line.  What I find when I put runners through a Functional Movement Screen (FMS) is that the majority of them have hip stability issues, weak hips.  You are saying, “Dude look at my butt its buff!”  I am not talking about your gluteus maximus, the big butt muscle that moves you forward.  I am talking about the little talked about gluteus medius an abductor that helps keep your knee inline with your hip.  This little muscle can cause runners big problems with overuse injuries.  In runners it
is often weak or does not fire at the appropriate time.  Here is where strength training and proper movement patterns cannot only make you a healthier runner but a faster one.  If your gluteus medius is buff then your butt is indeed buff and I promise you will not carry any extra weight up the hills in you next marathon.

As we enter fall and winter this is a great time to start a strength program to get you ready for next year.  At the
FootZone we offer strength training onWednesday’s at 7:15 PM and Thursday’s at 7:15 AM presented by Athlete WisePerformance Coaching.  The fee is $5 to drop in and punch cards are available as well.  If you want something that is even more personalized talk to a qualified trainer about a Functional Movement Screen and find out what your biggest weakness is and then tackle it.  You will be happy that you did.  None of us are getting any younger and I am sure that you are like me and want to be running for many more years.

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