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Run Smart, Stay Strong: Exercises Every Runner Should do for Injury Prevention


marathon runners

Run Smart, Stay Strong: Exercises Every Runner Should do for Injury Prevention

Are you getting ready for a race this spring? Whether you’ll be tackling the hills of Around the Bay in Hamilton, or prepping for Mississauga in April or Toronto in May, you’re likely starting to increase your training volume and intensity. Just remember, as training ramps up, so does the risk of injury. If you’re planning on running a race this spring, then you need to take some time to focus on injury prevention. Welcome to our post, where we’ll discuss common running injuries, risk factors and which exercises you can start doing NOW to prevent injuries. 

Common Running Injuries and Risk Factors for Runners

running injury prevention

Common Running Injuries

Runners often face common injuries that can slow them down and even stop them from running altogether. These include injuries such as:

  • Shin splints;
  • Achilles tendinopathy;
  • Patellar tendinopathy;
  • Hamstring strain;
  • IT band syndrome; 
  • and stress fractures in the foot. 

Running Risk Factors

There are several reasons why runners might get injured. 

  • Overtraining/overuse: accounts for 50-75% of all running injuries;
  • Previous running injury;
  • Lack of experience;
  • High mileage per week;
  • Improper footwear;
  • Biomechanical issues.

Understanding these factors can help you make smart choices to keep yourself injury free while you run.

The Role of Exercise in Injury Prevention

running and strength training

It’s not just about logging miles – incorporating different types of exercises into your routine can be a game-changer for preventing injuries. Strength training, flexibility exercises, and cross-training all have their place in keeping you strong and resilient as a runner. 

  • Strength training helps build strength, power and endurance;
  • Flexibility exercises keep your muscles loose and nimble;
  • Cross-training gives your body a break from the repetitive motion of running while still keeping you active. 

By mixing these up, you’re giving your body the variety it needs to stay healthy and injury-free. 

Essential Exercises for Runners


Strength Training for Runners

running and strength training

Strength training is crucial for runners as it builds strength, power, improves running economy, and enhances overall performance. By targeting key muscle groups such as the core, glutes, and legs, strength training helps prevent injuries by improving stability and balance. Additionally, it can enhance stride efficiency and endurance, making runners more resilient and capable during long-distance runs or sprints. Here are some key exercises EVERY runner should be doing!

Goblet Squats

running injury prevention exercise goblet squatsrunning injury prevention exercise goblet squats

Goblet squats are a highly beneficial exercise for runners due to their ability to target multiple muscle groups critical for running performance and injury prevention. By engaging the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core, goblet squats help improve lower body strength and stability, which are essential for maintaining proper running form and generating power with each stride. Additionally, goblet squats promote hip mobility and flexibility, crucial factors in preventing imbalances and reducing the risk of common running injuries such as IT band syndrome and patellofemoral pain syndrome. The upright posture required during goblet squats also helps reinforce proper spinal alignment, contributing to overall body awareness and improved running mechanics.

Reverse Lunge to High Knee

Reverse Lunge to High Knee running injury prevention exercise Reverse Lunge to High Knee running injury prevention exercise

The reverse lunge to high knee exercise is a dynamic movement that enhances injury prevention in runners by targeting multiple key areas. It improves hip stability, mobility, and balance, essential for maintaining proper alignment and biomechanics and reducing the risk of injuries. By engaging the core muscles and promoting proprioception, this exercise strengthens functional movement patterns crucial for efficient running mechanics. Additionally, the exercise builds functional strength in the lower body, addressing muscle imbalances and enhancing overall stability during running.

Calf Raises

calf raise running injury prevention exercise

Calf raises are a valuable exercise for injury prevention in runners as they strengthen the calf muscles, enhancing Achilles tendon integrity and ankle stability, thus reducing the risk of Achilles tendonitis and ankle sprains. Additionally, by improving shock absorption capabilities and optimizing propulsion during the push-off phase of running, calf raises help mitigate the risk of overuse injuries like shin splints and stress fractures while boosting running efficiency. 

Step Ups to High Knee

Step Ups to High Knee running injury prevention exerciseStep Ups to High Knee running injury prevention exercise

Step-ups to high knees are an excellent exercise for runners as they target key muscle groups involved in running mechanics while also improving balance, coordination, and agility. This dynamic movement engages the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calf muscles, all of which are essential for generating power and stability during running. By stepping up onto a platform and driving the knee upward into a high-knee position, runners strengthen their lower body muscles, particularly focusing on hip flexors and core stability, which are crucial for maintaining proper running form and preventing injuries related to imbalances or weakness. Furthermore, the exercise enhances proprioception and neuromuscular control, helping runners develop better control over their movements and reducing the risk of tripping or falling during runs.

Step Downs

Step Ups to High Knee running injury prevention exercise

Step downs are an effective exercise for injury prevention in runners due to their focus on eccentric muscle contraction and lower limb stability. By controlling the descent from an elevated surface, typically a step or a box, runners engage key muscles such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calf muscles in a controlled manner. This eccentric loading helps strengthen muscles while promoting joint stability, particularly in the knees and ankles, crucial for absorbing impact forces during running. Additionally, step downs enhance proprioception and balance, aiding runners in maintaining proper form and reducing the risk of missteps or falls, especially on uneven terrain. 

Side Plank with Hip Abduction

Side Plank with Hip Abduction running injury prevention exerciseSide Plank with Hip Abduction running injury prevention exercise


By combining the static stability challenge of the side plank with the dynamic movement of hip abduction, this exercise targets multiple muscle groups essential for running mechanics and injury resilience. The side plank component engages the lateral core muscles, including the obliques and quadratus lumborum, promoting trunk stability and alignment, which are crucial for maintaining proper running form and reducing the risk of lower back pain and injuries. Meanwhile, the hip abduction movement targets the gluteus medius, a key hip stabilizer, strengthening the muscles responsible for controlling pelvic and hip alignment during running. By improving lateral stability and hip strength, the side plank with hip abduction helps runners maintain optimal biomechanics, preventing common overuse injuries such as IT band syndrome and patellofemoral pain syndrome. 

Plank with Kettlebell Pull Through

Plank with Kettlebell Pull Through running injury prevention exercisePlank with Kettlebell Pull Through running injury prevention exercise


The plank with a kettlebell pull-through is a highly effective exercise for runners as it targets key muscle groups essential for performance and injury prevention. By engaging the core, hips, and shoulders, this exercise enhances stability, mobility, and functional strength, mirroring the demands of running. Strengthening the core improves posture and stability during long distances, while hip engagement promotes efficient mechanics and reduces the risk of injuries like IT band syndrome. Additionally, shoulder stability enhances arm swing mechanics, contributing to overall running efficiency. The exercise offers variability and progression, allowing runners to adjust weight and duration for continued improvement.

Flexibility and Mobility for Runners

stretching and running injuries


Flexibility and mobility are paramount for runners as they enhance performance and reduce the risk of injuries. Improved flexibility enables a greater range of motion, while enhanced mobility ensures efficient movement patterns, allowing runners to maintain proper form and stride mechanics throughout their workouts.

  1. Dynamic Stretches: A dynamic warm-up before running is crucial as it primes the muscles, increases heart rate, and enhances blood flow, helping to prevent injuries and optimize performance by preparing the body for the demands of the workout ahead. Watch this amazing warm up video from our Chiropractor Keirstyn click here.
  2. Static Stretches: Static stretching is important for runners as it helps improve flexibility, lengthen muscles, and enhance range of motion, which can contribute to better running mechanics and reduced risk of injury over time. Some muscles to focus on post-run include the hamstrings quads and calves.
Cross-Training for Runners

cross training for runners

Cross-training is vital for runners as it diversifies their workout routine, reducing the risk of overuse injuries while enhancing overall fitness levels. Incorporating activities like swimming, cycling, or strength training helps to strengthen different muscle groups, improves cardiovascular health, and promotes recovery, resulting in more balanced athleticism and increased performance on the track or trail.

Implementing an Injury Prevention Routine

running and injury prevention

So, you know all about the exercises that can keep you injury-free, but how do you actually fit them into your training plan? Well, it’s all about finding the right balance. Think of your exercises as important parts of your overall training routine, just like your runs. Schedule them into your week alongside your runs, making sure to mix up strength training, flexibility work, and cross-training. By treating them as essential components of your training, you’ll be setting yourself up for success on the road or trail.


It’s clear that injury prevention is crucial for runners, and incorporating specific exercises into your routine is a powerful way to make it happen. By prioritizing these exercises, you’re not just protecting yourself from injury – you’re also setting the stage for stronger, more enjoyable runs.

If you need more guidance on exercises for injury prevention or want to address any current injuries, the therapists at Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic, in Oakville and Burlington, can help get you started. Contact the clinic today at: 905-849-4576.


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