6 Injury Prevention Workouts for Runners: Strengthen your muscles and smooth out any imbalances to stay injury-free!

6 Injury Prevention Workouts for Runners

The theme of this month’s workout round up could not have been more appropriate: injury prevention workouts for runners! We all deal with our fair share of injuries, whether they are running related or you just happen to step on the wrong spot on that slick rock while hiking and sprain your foot…

Injuries are NOT an inevitable fact of being a runner, despite the statistics that proclaim that as many as 80% of runners are injured per year. No matter what your biomechanics are, you can smooth out muscular imbalances and strengthen weak areas. Here are 6 injury prevention workouts for runners! 

Stay off the injured runner list with the best injury prevention exercises for runners.

Most running injuries stem from a major area: the hips and the glutes. IT band syndrome, piriformis syndrome, runner’s knee, hamstring issues, etc – all stem from weak and imbalanced hips. Even foot issues can be related to hips, since usually the foot that pronates more than the other does so because of a shorter leg or imbalanced hips.

So let’s strengthen those hips and activate those glutes!

6 Injury Prevention Workouts for Runners: Strengthen your muscles and smooth out any imbalances to stay injury-free!

Kneeling Donkey Kicks:
Kneel on your hands and knees. Engage your abs and keep your back flat and your hips level. Squeeze your glutes and kick up your right knee while maintaining a bent knee (90 degrees). Lower slowly back down and repeat on the left. Alternate until you complete all reps.

Single Leg Bridges:
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor close to your butt. Raise your right leg straight up. While keeping your abs engaged, hips level, and squeezing your glutes, raise your butt off the ground. Your body should form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Slowly lower back down, keeping your hips level. Complete all reps on one side and then repeat with your left leg extended up. 

Clamshells:
Lie on your right side with your hips stacked, legs, and feet stacked and knees bent to a 45 degree angle in front of you. Keep your right leg on the floor and your right foot touching your left foot and raise your left knee up to lift your right leg. Only raise your knee as high as you can go without your heels coming apart from each other. Pause, and then slowly lower down. Do all reps on your right side and then repeat on your left side. You know you’re doing this move properly when your glutes really burn!

Side Lying Leg Lifts:
A Pilates favorite of mine for strong hips and glutes. Lie on your right side with your shoulders, hips, and legs stacked, legs extended straight out from your hips at a 45 degree angle in front of you. (An easy way to align: line up your back along one side of a yoga mat and extend your feet out to the bottom corner of the opposite side). Flex your bottom foot. Point your top foot and lift it up as high as you can without shifting your hips or rotating your torso, pause, and flex your foot to lower down. Complete all reps on one side before repeating on the other side. 

Calf Raises:
These may not work your glutes and hips as much, but they will strengthen your feet, ankles, and calves – which all runners will benefit from. Stand up straight with your feet hip distance apart and slowly raise up until you are standing on your toes. Keep your back straight and avoid wobbling your torso forward or backwards. Pause and slowly lower down. To make this exercise harder, lift one leg and perform the calf raises on just one leg at a time.

Of course, you can customize this workout to add on exercises to target your specific areas. For example, I’ll be adding on resistance band exercises for my feet to rehab my sprained ankle. No matter what your weak area, these five moves will help you prevent injury!

Not a fan of donkey kicks or bridges? Try one of these other workouts from my wonderful partner running bloggers:

Allie at Vita Train 4 Life is practicing the best form of injury prevention: recovery after a race. She’s in Italy relaxing, not training hard, and enjoying delicious food after a triumphant Olympic distance triathlon. No matter how good you are about injury prevention, you should never neglect recovery!

Nellie from Brooklyn Active Mama will keep you injury-free with her 5 Easy Tips for Runner Injury Prevention!

6 Injury Prevention Workouts for Runners: Strengthen your muscles and smooth out any imbalances to stay injury-free!

Carly at Fine Fit Day has a quick and effective routine for you to sneak in after a run to keep injuries away.

6 Injury Prevention Workouts for Runners: Strengthen your muscles and smooth out any imbalances to stay injury-free!

Sarah at Run Far Girl‘s routine will give your balanced hips, activated glutes, and a strong core for many injury-free miles.

Prevent running injuries with these moves from RunFarGirl

Angela at Happy Fit Mama has a workout that will build an injury-proof body with strong legs, glutes, and core!

Keep running strong and injury free with these 7 essential injury prevention exercises for runners. happyfitmama.com

Catch up on previous round ups:
6 Upper Body Workouts for Runners
6 Two a Day Workouts for Runners
6 Stuck Inside Workouts for Runners

What’s your favorite injury prevention exercise?
Have you ever experienced a injury that kept you from running?
What’s your best tip for staying injury-free?

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18 Responses

  1. Another great collection of workouts! Glutes and hips are an area I really need to focus on to prevent injury. And I like doing calf raises on a step for an extra challenge! Now you have given me lots of potential workouts to add onto my run this morning:)

    1. Thank you! Calf raises on a step are a great idea, Angela had those in her workout and I think I need to include them now! I hope you had a great run this morning! 🙂

  2. great round up of workouts! I try not to talk about injuries because I am afraid I will jinx myself lol. I just assume whatever it is I am doing is balanced enough for me to keep me running injury free. I think most importantly though is paying attention to the little aches and pains and if it feels like something you need to back off from, you do it asap rather than risk developing an true injury.

    1. Lol I get that fear also! I’m pretty sure I jinx myself because I wrote a post about staying injury-free while running and hiking…and then sprained my foot while hiking and couldn’t run. You’re so right – back off of anything if it doesn’t feel good, one run is never worth an injury!

  3. I love this time of the month! I think we can all agree that strong glutes, hips and core are what runners need to focus on the most. And I think we all nailed it! My favorite injury prevention exercise is single leg squats.

    1. Thank you as always for putting this awesome group together! I love the workouts we all come up with. And single leg squats are so killer to the muscles but so effective!

  4. Hook this up for running coaches Corner! Injury prevention is one of the most important and most neglected parts of training. Speaking of, I have neglecting my clamshells…

    1. I’m going to start asking you each Wednesday now if you’ve done them! So many runners neglect injury prevention in all its form – the strength exercises, diet, recovery, all that stuff we coaches emphasize for our athletes!

  5. YES YES YES! So important. Testify!!! I’ve been religiously doing my core work and glute work and I haven’t had to get my SI joint mobilized in months!

  6. In three years of running, including three marathons and countless halves – never been injured*. I think a lot of it is genetics, honestly. I’m lucky, and on the opposite side, some runners I know do everything right and still can’t get through a training cycle without their body rebelling.

    I do need to get stronger, though. I’ve just always struggled to incorporate strength into my workout routine, because I always decide that I need to start strength training at the same time I start marathon training. I think it will actually be even more important now that I’m doing shorter distance racing, since I’ll need strong muscles to get those bursts of power and speed!

    *now that I’ve said this, I’m probably going to trip and twist my ankle walking to the bus stop or something.

    1. Don’t go and do what I did and sprain something while not running! Take careful and deliberate steps now, you hear? 🙂 That’s awesome though that you’ve been able to stay injury free through three marathon – anything you do to get stronger will help you run even better! That’s definitely one thing we’ll include when I coach you this summer – strength is key for the 10k! 🙂

  7. I had IT band syndrome on and off for several years, and injury prevention routines helped but it kept coming back. It went away for good (so far) not long after I started doing heavy deadlifts – I don’t know if it was coincidence, or the stronger glutes. 😉

    1. My favorite as well! And thank you! Isn’t Allie’s workout the best? I think downtime and some good food after a hard race is what we all need to stay injury-free!

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