I would like to clear up the big misconception that you will get stronger by running. Contrary to popular belief, RUNNING DOES NOT STRENGTHEN and for this reason a vast majority of our patients are runners of some sort. Some have completed marathons and Ironman triathlons. Some do it recreationally for stress relief or to eat whatever they desire. Others are getting off the couch and trying to get back into shape. What ever your reasoning is for running, the most important thing to remember is that running is great for improved cardiovascular endurance, stress relief, and a weight loss boost, but it will not strengthen you.

Muscular endurance is not the same thing as muscular strength. Muscular endurance is the ability of one or multiple muscles to sustain a repetitive, sub-maximal force or contraction over an extended period of time. Muscular strength is related to the muscle’s ability to move or produce a maximal force on an object. Imagine the difference in a Prius that gets upwards of 51 miles to the gallon verses a vintage muscle car running at 8 miles to the gallon. One has endurance, while the other has power and strength. One you would take across the country on a trip, the other down a drag strip. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not promoting that everyone should completely abandon their workout routine, become meatheads in the gym and start performing Olympic lifts. I’m just saying endurance is very different from strength. If you are a runner, you need to understand this difference to protect yourself against injury and extend your running life.

Nearly every runner that comes through our clinic has one of two stories: I have been training for (insert the race of your choice) and this began hurting or I run because (insert reason) and this started hurting. The ultimate reason for the injury is typically weakness isolated in the hips and/or lower abdominals. Many of the runners that I treat do not understand this difference between muscular endurance and strength. One automatically assumes that “I have to be strong because… I can run 26.2 miles” or “… I can run a mile in 6 minutes”. This is a very poor assumption and always leads down the road to an injury. As a runner, it is necessary for one to diversify workouts. Strength training is just as important, if not more, as the long 20 mile run on Sundays because it is what will help you maintain good form and prevent a breakdown in the running cycle. Endurance is easy to get, but it is also the weakest part in the chain. Strength comes by a little bit harder, requires more focus and dedication, but it is what supports the entire chain. Understanding the importance of having a balance of strength and endurance is the key to have a long and safe running career.

If you are currently running and are pain and problem free, that is great, but before a small amount of weakness develops into a problem take a look at your training program and start strength training (your body weight is all you need to get started). If you are hurting or feel uncomfortable in your running cycle, do not hesitate to call until you cannot run and have to shut it down for months. Many weaknesses are easily identified and easily corrected if caught soon enough by a professional at FIRST CHOICE PHYSICAL THERAPY. Don’t wait until it is too late!

Brent Holtgrewe
Director of MVP Sports Enhancement