9 Single-Leg Exercises to Prevent Running Injuries

Training your body's kinetic chain to operate in one smoothly functioning system can be a challenge. The payoff—especially for endurance athletes—is huge.

Imagine for a moment, an injury-free body that can produce more power and speed over a longer period of time. Shaving minutes off those race times suddenly gets a little easier.

The most significant barriers to accomplishing this are muscle imbalances. Over months and years of training, athletes develop these imbalances and begin to overcompensate in different ways.

For instance, if you are a quad-dominant runner, you're at greater risk for hamstring pulls because that area is probably weaker and less flexible. Since it's lacking in strength, you'll likely become increasingly reliant on your quads in order to get through runs.

Eventually, this may lead to an injury. By training the quads, hamstrings and glute muscles equally, you'll be more powerful and less injury prone.

More: How to Treat and Prevent Common Running Injuries

One of the best ways to address muscle imbalances is through single-leg exercises. These types of exercises use balance to isolate muscles on each side and strengthen them equally and individually. Try out a combination of the following leg exercises and you may see your performance improve and those nagging injuries disappear.

More: Strength Training for Runners

Single-Leg Squat

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees and squat downwards. Keep your back as straight as possible. Now try it on one foot, with the resting leg bent behind your body. Complete two sets of 15 repetitions on each leg.

More: 5 Squat Variations for Runners

Single-Leg Calf Raise

With a wall or chair to hold onto for balance, slowly rise to your toes on one foot and then lower back down. Complete two sets of 15 repetitions on each leg.

More: 8 Exercises to Prevent Foot Injuries

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About the Author

Mackenzie Lobby

Mackenzie Lobby is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and photographer with a Master's in Kinesiology from the University of Minnesota. She has run 10 marathons and is a USATF certified coach. When she's not writing, she's out swimming, biking, and running the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes. Check out her website at mackenzielobby.com.

Mackenzie Lobby is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and photographer with a Master's in Kinesiology from the University of Minnesota. She has run 10 marathons and is a USATF certified coach. When she's not writing, she's out swimming, biking, and running the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes. Check out her website at mackenzielobby.com.

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