Plyometrics for Runners
Aidan Rich, APA Sports and Exercise Physiotherapist
Plyometric exercises generally involve body weight jumping, hopping and bounding activity.
The aim of plyometrics is to make the muscles in the leg more efficient at storing and releasing energy (the “stretch-shortening cycle”) which is very important for efficient running. Often with age, or with high volumes of low to moderate-intensity running, the ability of the muscles to act in this way is decreased, leading to more ‘sticking’ on the ground with every step. Incorporating regular plyometrics in your running program can assist with slowing down, or even reversing these changes.
Plyometric exercises have been proven to have performance benefits in runners of all abilities, from 15 to 150 km/week. (Turner et al., 2003; Spurrs et al., 2003, Saunders et al., 2006).
There is a small injury risk with undertaking a plyometric program, however this can be minimised by starting with a small amount and gradually increasing over time. This program can be performed twice per week over a 3 to 4 month program, and perhaps once to twice per week after that as maintenance depending on the individual situation.
The video below (HL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVUL3cwJ4bw) shows a program which would be appropriate for many beginner runners
Things to consider when starting a plyometric program:
· Start easy! Your body is great ad adapting to new stimuli but this can take some time
· Use a soft surface. Grass, dirt, or a sprung floor is a better option than concrete or bitumen.
· Focus on good technique, thinking about being “springy”, “up tall” and “light on your feet”
· Plyometrics are best undertaken when you have limited fatigue in your legs. This might mean they are undertaken on an “easy” day but should not be performed after a hard session.
So have a think about whether a plyometric program may be suitable for your running needs!
Aidan is an APA Sports and Exercise Physiotherapist at Advance Healthcare in Boronia. Aidan has a special interest in running related injuries, and is a keen runner and triathlete himself. He is available for consulting at the Boronia clinic, bookings can be made via the clinic website or by phoning our friendly reception team on 03 9839 3322. The Boronia clinic is located close to Ferntree Gully, Croydon and Rowville.