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Eccentric Strength Training: Unlocking the Potential for Runners

As a runner, you know that endurance and stamina are crucial for success on the racecourse. But did you know that incorporating eccentric strength training into your routine can take your performance to the next level? In this article, we will explore the benefits of eccentric training for runners and debunk common misconceptions. Get ready to discover how this innovative training method can improve your durability, speed, and flexibility without compromising your running goals.


Woman balancing on one leg holding kettlebell

The Power of Eccentric Training


Understanding Eccentric Exercises


Eccentric training focuses on the downward phase of a movement, such as lowering a dumbbell during a bicep curl or the quadricep muscle's action during downhill running. Unlike concentric exercises that involve lifting, eccentric movements involve lengthening the muscles under tension. This training method not only strengthens the connective tissues, including tendons and muscles, but also increases the recruitment of underutilized muscle fibers. Most importantly, it trains the body to more effectively absorb the shock/repetitive forces that we apply to our bodies during activity.


Building Durability and Injury Prevention


One of the biggest challenges runners face is the risk of injuries. Research shows that at least half of all runners experience injuries every year. By incorporating eccentric training into your regimen, you can enhance the durability of your legs and reduce the likelihood of injuries by training the muscle to absorb the forces more effectively. Eccentric exercises create more muscle damage (in a good way) than concentric exercises, leading to the rebuilding and strengthening of muscle fibers. This process improves muscle stress and increases adaptation, allowing you to endure longer and more challenging runs before fatigue sets in.


Improving Flexibility and Performance


Flexibility is often overlooked by runners, but it plays a crucial role in overall performance. Eccentric training has been found to improve flexibility better than static stretching. Improved flexibility equals a slightly longer stride which leads to a faster time while applying the same effort. By incorporating slow and controlled eccentric movements into your routine, you can increase your flexibility while simultaneously building strength. This combination will enhance your running efficiency, allowing you to tackle uphills with ease and say goodbye to sore quads after long downhill runs.


Debunking Common Myths


Fear of Bulking Up and Losing Flexibility


Many runners are hesitant to incorporate strength training into their routines due to fears of bulking up and losing flexibility. However, eccentric training provides a solution to these concerns. Unlike traditional weightlifting, which focuses on concentric movements and can lead to muscle hypertrophy, eccentric training prioritizes the lengthening phase and promotes lean muscle development. This type of training allows you to build strength without compromising your flexibility or gaining excess muscle mass.


Time Efficiency and Reduced Soreness


Another common misconception is that strength training requires hours in the gym and leads to excessive post-workout soreness. Eccentric training, on the other hand, offers a time-efficient alternative. With the emphasis on slow and controlled movements, you can achieve significant results in a shorter time frame. Additionally, the eccentric phase of exercise utilizes less energy, allowing you to perform more work with less overall volume. This approach gives you ample time for recovery and ensures you can complete your important running workouts without excessive soreness.


Incorporating Eccentric Training into Your Routine


Tailoring Strength Training for Runners


To fully reap the benefits of eccentric training, it is essential to tailor your strength routine to complement your running training. By scheduling your strength workouts on the same days as your harder runs, you can keep your hard days hard and allow for proper recovery. It is recommended to add two lower body training sessions per week with resistance, each lasting around 30-45 minutes. This time commitment is minimal compared to the potential gains in strength and durability. However, daily therapeutic eccentric exercises can also be performed without adding weight. These exercises focus on full ROM using body weight and can be done daily.



Combining Eccentric and Plyometric Exercises


To maximize the potential of eccentric training, consider incorporating plyometric exercises into your routine. These exercises can be performed on a grid on the floor that maximize the number of jumps performed over 5-10 seconds. Plyometrics involve explosive movements to generate power and improve muscle performance. By combining eccentric exercises with plyometric movements, you can harness the force generated by the newly developed muscle fibers in your legs. This synergistic approach will increase your power potential and enable you to achieve peak performance during races.


Taking the Next Steps


Ready to take your running performance to new heights? Contact Performance Care Stretch Clinic for a personal consultation and learn how eccentric training can benefit you and unlock your full potential as a runner.


Eccentric strength training is a game-changer for runners. By incorporating eccentric exercises into your routine, you can build durability, prevent injuries, improve flexibility, and enhance overall performance. Don't let misconceptions hold you back – this innovative training method can help you achieve your running goals without sacrificing flexibility or gaining excess muscle mass. Take the leap and embrace eccentric training to unlock your full potential as a runner. Your future race results will thank you!



Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program.


Source Credit: Runner’s World

Image Credit: SrdjanPav//Getty Images


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