Updated: Jun 8, 2021
Running Exercises Blog Series
Part 1 of 5: Band-assisted leg lower
At The Micheli Center, we hear a lot of questions when it comes to running. Some include:
Will running more make me stronger?
If I decrease my mileage, will I still be ready for my race?
Can you design a running program for me? My cross country season starts next week.
We want to use this next series of five blogs to address and express the importance of strength training for runners. Running is a high-impact cardiovascular activity, not a strength-building activity. While it may address muscular endurance, it is not an activity we would place in the strength category.
In this five-part series, we will outline one exercise in each post, in depth, that will indicate if you have the proper strength needed for running. As I go through each exercise, it is important to note that this is how I perform a strength assessment with my athletes so it might differ from trainer to trainer and facility to facility. I have found that these exercises are a great way to test, assess, and devise a training plan/program.
Single Leg Lowers
This exercise will assess an athlete’s true core strength. Lay on your back and place a stretching strap under the curve in your lower back then raise both legs in the air. Contract your core to flatten your lower back to the floor so there is no space between your back and the floor. Tug on one end of the stretching strap to make sure the stretching strap does not move. While keeping the core engaged and the stretching strap from moving, slowly start to lower one leg toward the ground.
Typically, what I see that happens here is the core lets go at the first sign of movement and allows our hip flexors and/or shoulders to take over that responsibility. You should be able to lower and raise your leg without allowing the stretching strap to slide out from under your back. If it does, we will address this and practice some other exercise to help strengthen the core.
The band-assisted leg lower helps with core control throughout movement.
The band is helpful for a few things:
Aids in core engagement
Allows the hip flexors to relax a little bit to keep the responsibility on the core
Aids in anti-rotation training which addresses rotary core stability
Aids in stabilizing the upper body so it can't "help"
Gives a little hamstring stretch
Allows us to focus on one leg at a time
Once you are able to complete this exercise without the stretching strap moving, we can progress to build on that foundation!