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The Most Important Strengthening Exercise For Runners

Our calf muscle complex (CMC) consists of our gastrocnemius and soleus that plantarflex our foot (push our foot down). They are often overlooked when it comes to strength training for runners even though you could call them the “powerhouse” of distance running. Our CMC plays a significant role in generating propulsion forward during running and absorbing impact from the ground at foot strike. Injuries to this area can also sideline runners for extended periods of time.

It’s important to note that our CMC is affected by normal age-related changes. As we continue to age we lose power and efficiency in this area of our body compared to our hip and knee joint. Even more the reason to add in strength training of your CMC!

The video demonstrates a simple strength routine for your CMC. Focus on moving your body directly vertical (toward the ceiling) and keep the ball of your foot in contact with the floor throughout. Repeat 20 reps x 3-4 sets. To increase the challenge you could add weight or complete the exercise on one leg.

Here is another calf raise option that progresses you to a single leg movement. Try again to keep the force moving straight up and down towards the ceiling. Don’t push through your front foot, which is on the step. Instead keep all your weight on the foot in contact with the floor and use the front foot for balance.

Try 3 sets of 12-15 reps and add weight to increase the difficulty.

Here is a great place to start, but stay tuned for part 2 of the best strength training for runners! We’ll be back soon with some calf raise progressions to help you stay healthy and continuing to run the fastest you can at that next race!

Here at Peak Endurance Performance & Physical Therapy we help active adults in the Madison Area get back to the activities they love without pain or limitations. We see people of all ages, ability levels, and individuals trying to get back to a multitude of movements including: getting back into running, women postpartum, CrossFit athletes, climbers, gymnasts, wrestlers, overhead athletes, and your recreational weekend warrior. If you’re looking to get back to the activities that give you meaning, relieve stress, and make you feel like you again, feel free to reach out below and we’ll see if we’re the right fit for you.