During the COVID-19 pandemic, running observably has become an extremely popular exercise activity locally obviously, for its health benefits and simplicity as no equipment is required. I am avid runner myself recreationally often clocking up 50kms per week. Over the past 10 years as a physiotherapist, I have coached hundreds of my patients who have never ran before to shed a few pounds or improve their overall fitness. Many of my patients have misconceptions about running in particular, that running is bad for your knees and that you are at major risk of arthritis. This common concern has been debunked by science by multiple studies. Based on large population studies, the chances of developing arthritis from regular running are very slim. In fact, regular running has shown to strengthen joints and plays a protective role in the development of osteoarthritis later in life. Commonly reported knee pain by runners at Acland Street Physiotherapy that is generally treatable with a moderate amount of physiotherapy and strength training are Iliotibial Band Syndrome or Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome.
The following is a concise infographic on how what good running form generally looks like. If you would prefer to further explore this, please do not hesitate to make a booking with us for a comprehensive physiotherapy and biomechanical running assessment.
Many of my patients ask me the following question: What exactly is the exercise dosage I should do (the number of reps and sets) perform to optimise their either physical rehabilitation or fitness program for strength gains?
As a rule of thumb, here is the advice I generally give to someone who is relatively physically normal with no particular past medical history that may make performing the following task unsafely:
Bodyweight leg exercises are a great way to build up lower limb strength, prevent injuries and improve your overall physical fitness. A common question I get as a physio is: "Are squats or lunges more beneficial to do regularly?"
Firstly to answer this question, it is important to understand that both squats and lunges can be adjusted to preferentially activate certain muscle groups.
Squats and lunges both use your gluteals, hamstrings and quadriceps muscle groups. However, lunges involve leaning the body forward which activates more hamstrings and gluteals, while if you keep the body upright, you will activate the quadriceps more - for instance, when you perform a classic style squat. However, going lower down will activate more gluteals and hamstrings.
It is also interesting to note that single leg exercises such as lunges also preferentially activate the gluteal mininus, medius and core muscles specifically to assist with hip stabilisation. Lunges also changes your dynamic balance, compared to a squat which has a large stable base of support.
A 2018 research study demonstrated that 6 sets of 6-12 rep weighted squats can produce an endocrine system response, which may play a role in stimulating muscle growth and tissue regeneration.
I would recommend that you incorporate both lunges and squats in your exercise regime for more health benefits.
Here is a useful reference article explaining the common fitness mistakes associated with squatting, lunging and planking, written by a leading expert physiotherapy lecturer from the University of South Australia, Dr Steve Milanese. It provides some simple tips on correcting your technique.
We often associate strength training with dedicated body builders, grunting and sweating away at the gym for hours working on their physical appearance. Barry Nguyen, a sports & musculoskeletal physiotherapist and health technologist shares with us other reasons why we should all participate in strength training.
1. Increase bone strength - Strength training stresses on your bones leading to increased bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis ('brittle bones').
2. Weight control - Strength training helps convert fat into lean muscle raising your basal metabolic rate. This helps you burn more calories even at rest.
3. Improve brain power - Some studies have suggested that strength training can help improve your memory and focus, particularly in older adults.
4. Manage chronic disease - Strength training can help alleviate the symptoms of chronic diseases including back and shoulder pain, osteoarthritis, heart failure and diabetes type II.
5. Improve stamina - Strength training can help you do more physical activities in your daily living without feeling tired and inefficient.
6. Boost your self-esteem - Strength training has been shown in studies to boost your self-confidence.
7. Improve posture - Strength training can help you move while performing your daily activities in a more relaxed and efficient manner.
8. A large number of research studies have demonstrated that strength training can improve running performance, efficiency and reduce the risk of injury. Below is a useful infographic summarising the benefits of strength training for recreational and elite runners based on the latest scientific research studies: