Relaxed shoulders and arms help you maintain an efficient running posture.
UPGRADE IT Shake your shoulders out to release any tension. And keep your head up: research at Central Washington University found this improves your running economy by one per cent (that’s a crucial 30 seconds off a 50-minute 10km). Channel Michael Johnson and get those shoulders back to obliterate your PB.
“A strong core that works with the swing of the arm and stride of the leg gives you stability and efficient form,” says Davies.
UPGRADE IT In a study at Florida’s Barry University, runners who followed a core training regime cut their 5km times by three per cent. Strength coach Gareth Cole suggests overhead reverse lunges, side planks and single-arm planks to carve out a granite midsection.
“Your glutes are an underrated element of running mechanics,” says performance coach Si Tate. “Strong glutes mean better acceleration, while a weak set leads to injury.”
UPGRADE IT “Jumping split-squats will increase your range of movement, strength and power, which improves running speed and technique,” says Tate.
“These muscles provide the power and endurance to repeatedly push you off the ground,” says physiotherapist Steph Davies.
UPGRADE IT Physiotherapist James Bowles suggests this desk-friendly move to keep your calves firing: roll a tennis ball under your foot. When you reach a tender area, keep going until you feel a release. This improves the explosive potential of the calf muscles.
“With running, the foot and ankle kick-start forward propulsion,” says Tate. Weakness here will severely hamper the efficiency of your stride.
UPGRADE IT When running faster than seven kilometres per hour, your ankles provide 47 per cent of the power. “Training them will sidestep injury and add oomph to your pushoff,” says Tate. Hop forwards and backwards on one foot, knee slightly bent, then go left to right. Swap feet and repeat.
Although often neglected, strong hamstrings are vital to your stride and prevent your knees from over-straightening.
UPGRADE IT “Nordic hamstring lowers will strengthen your hammies,” says strength coach John McMahon. Kneel with someone holding your ankles, then slowly lower yourself to the floor, keeping your body straight.
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