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.
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.
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.
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.