Whether you have rediscovered your love for running during these difficult past few months, or have been running for a number of years, it is just as important to stay fit and keep your body great shape. How can you achieve this? The right pair of shoes? Warming up properly? Strength training? Utilising a resistance band? A mixture of all of these factors is a great start.
Warming up and stretching correctly is an excellent way to improve your muscular health, especially when you want to prevent running injuries. Stretching enhances your flexibility and reduces tension in your muscles and fascia after training.
We’ve teamed up with the experts over at Meglio to discuss resistance bands and resistance loops to aid your muscle activation and recovery.
What are resistance bands?
Resistance bands are a super adaptable, inexpensive piece of equipment, which can be used for muscle activation, muscle recovery and adding strength to your body. Combining resistance bands and resistance loops within your running routine is an easy and quick way to speed up your recovery and help prevent injuries.
What are the benefits of using resistance bands?
- Reduces lactic acid – When you work out, your muscles get stressed and at that moment, your body produces lactic acid; in turn making your muscles tired and sore. Stretching helps you to release the lactic acid and therefore speeds up your recovery and relieves the pain.
- Boost your energy – When your body cools down after running, the brain releases endorphins which makes you feel happy and relaxed. Performing a thorough cool down routine will help your muscles to recover faster, and you will feel more energised.
- Prevents injury – While stretching, you increase your ROM (range of motion) and flexibility. Tension in your muscles and fascia are released and you will feel more secure and stable in your movements.
What are the best resistance band exercises?
There are hundreds of resistance band workouts for runners online. Here are a few great examples to get you started.
Monster Walks with a Resistance Loop
Target: Glute activation
What it does: Perfect for glute activation, this exercise is designed to activate the muscles in your hips and glutes. The hip extensors and abductors play a majorly important role in building your stability and posture; very important for running.
How to: Place a resistance loop around your ankles, calves or thighs, bend your knees slightly and sink into a squat position. Your feet should be hip width apart. Take big (Monster) steps making sure that you try and keep your knees above your feet to work on knee tracking and glute activation. Walk forward with a diagonal step and then step back to where you started. You will soon feel the burn after a few sets of these!
For: Perform until you feel your glutes burning, rest and then go again. Aim to complete 3-4 sets.
Standing Hip Extension with a Resistance Loop
Target: Glutes and hamstrings
What it does: This exercise really targets your hip extensors which are critical for running.
How to: Place the resistance loop around your ankles and stand tall. While keeping your left leg straight and stable, engage your core and kick your right leg outwards. Hold for a moment, then slowly return to the starting position. You can hold on to a chair or the wall to keep yourself balanced. Don’t be tempted to rotate your hips. Instead, keep your focus on using your glutes. Repeat this 10-12 times and then switch legs.
For: 12 Reps on each leg.
Side Leg Raise with a Resistance Loop
Target: Glutes and core
What it does: This exercise will help work the muscles in your glutes and core, which will aid your stability, balance, and overall power.
How to: Lie on the floor, turn on your side and loop the band around your lower leg. Slowly raise your top leg whilst keeping your core stable, focus on squeezing from the glutes. Aim to perform this motion in a slow, controlled motion.
For: 12 Reps on each leg.
Ankle Plantar Flexion with a Resistance Band
Target: Calf and ankle stability
What it does: Strengthening calf muscles can place less stress and impact on your feet and legs when you make contact with the ground. Strong calves will help to support your ankles and prevent sprains and rolls. This exercise really helps minimise the chance of developing achilles tendonitis.
How to: Wrap a resistance band around your forefoot. Grip the ends of the band with your hands, taking up the slack to your desired resistance level. Push your foot down into the band, hold and slowly return to the starting position. Switch to the opposite foot and repeat.
For: 12 Reps on each foot.
Squats with a Resistance Loop
Targets: Quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes
What it does: Squats provide a full body exercise that work on strengthening key muscles in your legs whilst also developing proper motor patterns from running.
How to: Place the resistance loop just above your knees and open your legs slightly wider than hip distance apart. Keep your knees in line with your feet and begin to lower yourself down. You can raise your arms to help counterbalance yourself. When lowering yourself down, aim to push your bottom out behind you, as if you were about to sit down on a chair. It is important to keep your back straight and maintain good form throughout. Only lower yourself down to a comfortable position (aim for thighs parallel to the floor). Return to the top and repeat.
For: Aim to complete 15-20 repetitions, resting as little as needed between moves.
Where can I get resistance bands from?
Now you’re fully up-to-date about the importance of resistance bands and how they can boost your running routine, there’s no reason not to give them a try. Once you start improvising and creating your own unique exercises, you’ll find these bands irresistible and running routine transformed.
We’ve tried and tested different strength resistance bands and resistance loops from Meglio and can confidently give them 5 stars. We’ll put a review up soon and share our thoughts on these items and others.