This article originally appeared in “Runner’s World / Zelle”
Every runner should aim for an efficient stride. It allows you to run faster paces and longer distances with less effort, while also reducing injury risk. Physical therapist and coach Jack Cady, M.P.T., says there are two ways to improve your stride: You can tweak your form and you can do strength exercises that produce better mechanics.
Single-Leg Knee Drive
Strengthens muscles that perform hip and knee flexion, and prevents overstriding.
Fasten one end of a resistance band to your right ankle (the other end tied to a secure anchor). Hop forward, letting your right leg extend back. Drive your right knee forward. Slowly lower your leg back to its starting position. Don’t let your foot touch the ground. Do 3 sets of 25 reps on each leg.
Improves your ability to resist rotation while running.
Hold one end of an anchored band in your right hand and raise both arms overhead, keeping your elbows in line with your ears. Step forward until you feel slight resistance. Lift your right leg a few inches off the ground. Hinge at your hips to fold forward slightly, performing a mini crunch. Perform 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps on each side.
Strengthens muscles that keep your shoulder blades pulled back, preventing poor posture.
Loop a band around an anchor. Hold one end in each hand. Keep your elbows at your sides. Step back until you feel resistance. Drive your right elbow back, squeezing your shoulder blade toward the middle of your back. Hold for 5 seconds. Slowly release the band forward. Do 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps on each arm.
Plank with Knee Drive
Strengthens core muscles to prevent hip and pelvic rotation.
Start in a plank position with your forearms on top of a stability ball. Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders. Lift your left foot and draw your left knee in toward your chest. Extend your left leg back, not letting it touch the floor. Do 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions on each leg.