Spinning is an excellent way to boost stamina whilst substituting a high-impact with a zero-impact workout, giving your joints a break from the wear and tear. The class instructors push you to work harder, and the intensity of the class helps to improve strength and pace in your running. Spinning can effectively strengthen the entire muscles of the leg, serving as a great compliment to running especially if you don’t do much hill-workouts. The muscles worked on the bike vary from those used while running, and strengthening different (weaker) muscles in your body will provide greater muscular balance, resulting in reduced chance of running-related injury. The spin classes are also a good way to socialise when you hobble out of the class together soaked through with sweat, and the power tune playlist used in the class will give you ideas for your own running tracks.
Yoga can be of immense benefit for runners seeking a cross training method. It helps loosen and lengthen all the muscles of the body, to reverse the muscle tightness caused by running, and to improve flexibility and stability in the body. Yoga helps align the muscles and bones, helping the body function more efficiently, and you’ll experience less stiffness and a lower risk for injury. This focus on alignment can help correct the postural and gait problems that often lead to knee, hip and back pain. Unlike other activities, yoga's emphasis on controlled breath helps to strengthen the respiratory system. Lung capacity improves which in turn can improve sports performance and endurance. The deepest benefit is in mental focus as learning tools of endurance and breath can directly apply on the roads and trails.
Upper body conditioning will make you go further as the upper body plays a huge role in endurance performance. The arms are responsible for maintaining a rhythmic motion in tune with the lower body and the torso must have a stable foundation to prevent excess rotation during the running motion. A strong upper body helps minimizes fatigue and stiffness in the arms, shoulders, and neck areas that in turn, enables a runner to maintain form late in a marathon or long run. Doing weight training that focuses on your upper body also maintains muscle strength, reduces fat deposits around the body, reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease and protects bones from osteoporosis.
Swimming helps your joints whilst providing a complete resistance workout for your body, as water is nearly 800 times denser than air. As well as developing your arms and making your legs stronger, swimming helps you burn body fat and builds muscle strength and tone. Experts from Runner’s World explain that the resistance of water offers a cooling workout that taxes the body enough to maintain cardiovascular and muscular-skeletal fitness, while its buoyancy and zero-impact environment aids in recovery and injury prevention giving your joints a much-needed vacation. The body-shaping benefits of swimming workouts are the result of a perfect storm of calorie burn and muscle recruitment and is the perfect place to stretch out tight muscles because the water's buoyancy helps improve range of motion and flexibility - so make sure to cool down in the pool area after your run.
Foam Rollers are a good way to stretch out muscles after running and reduce the risk of IT-band syndrome. Wouldn’t it be nice to end every active week with an intense deep-tissue massage to help ease your muscles? Some muscles (like hip flexors) and ligaments (iliotibial band) are prone to shortening, and are difficult to effectively stretch out. Many runners, for example, become painfully acquainted with their IT band if they don’t take care to massage the band of tissue.
There are many reasons why massaging out the tight knots in muscles is an important part of your workout routine, even if you already stretch regularly. A foam roller is a cylindrical piece of hard-celled foam, in which you use your own body weight to sandwich the roller between the body’s soft tissue and the floor. Once a sensitive spot is hit make sure to concentrate on this area for a bit until you feel a release of tension. Foam rollers come in various lengths and diameters, helping prevent common injuries with stretches that lengthen your hip flexors, maintaining flexibility and joint movement by ironing out muscle knots, and releasing tension built up in the connective tissue. Aside from rolling injuries, you can also use it for a variety of exercises to improve range of motion, muscle contraction and reduce muscle soreness. It’s especially useful for a number of core-strengthening and stabilizing postures and movements.
features writer & lifestyle blogger and avid shoe wearer.