Just hop to it …Preventing running injuries with plyometrics

Runners love to run Running is one of the most accessible and popular forms of exercise whether its just for fun and fitness or because  some of us love to have a crack at getting a new pb or for the challenge of  competition.

As a result  runners of all levels often aim to improve their performance and running economy as well as reduce time away from the trail, track or road because of injury.

 Can plyometrics or hopping exercises prevent running injuries and help you run faster ?

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plyometrics and sport specific training drills for ACL rehab

A recent study titled “Progressive Daily Hopping Exercise Improves Running Economy in Amateur Runners” sheds light on a novel approach to enhancing running economy and reducing injury through a simple yet effective exercise routine to complement their training.

The Study looked at introducing simple hopping and jumping exercises to the running training program being performed. The hopping exercise group performed daily sessions that gradually increased in intensity and duration over a period of six weeks.  At the end of the study the researchers measured the participants’ running economy before and after the training intervention to assess the impact of the hopping exercise.

What plyometrics do for running speed and preventing running injuries

  • Improved Running Economy: The results of the study were quite remarkable. The group that engaged in the daily hopping exercise showed a significant improvement in their running economy compared to the traditional training group. This improvement was attributed to the increased elastic energy storage and release in the leg muscles, resulting in more efficient running.
  • Increased Muscle Power: The hopping exercise group experienced enhanced muscle power, particularly in their lower extremities. This increase in power translated to improved performance during running, as the participants were able to generate more force with each stride.
  • Enhanced Coordination and Balance: Hopping exercises require a higher level of coordination and balance, which proved beneficial for the runners. This improved coordination allowed the participants to maintain a more stable and efficient running form.
  • Reduced Risk of Injury: One unexpected benefit of the hopping exercise routine was a reduced risk of injury. Stronger leg muscles and improved stability played a crucial role in preventing common running-related injuries, such as shin splints and knee pain.

Examples of Hopping / plyometric exercises for running

The success of the study suggests that incorporating hopping exercises into your training routine can improve running economy. for a  look at plyometrics and how to implement them safely and effectively  check out our blog here  

Here are some examples of hopping plyometric exercises that you can try:

Here are examples of the exercises used in the study

  1. Two-Legged Forward Hops:
    • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
    • Bend your knees slightly and jump forward, landing softly on both feet.
    • Continue hopping forward for a designated distance or time.
  2. Single-Leg Hops:
    • Balance on one leg with a slight bend in your knee.
    • Hop forward, landing softly on the same leg.
    • Repeat for a designated distance or time before switching legs.
  3. Lateral Hops:
    • Stand with your feet together.
    • Hop laterally (side to side) while keeping your feet close together.
    • Repeat for a designated distance or time.
  4. Box Jumps:
    • Find a sturdy box or platform.
    • Jump onto the box, landing softly with both feet.
    • Step back down and repeat for a designated number of repetitions.
  5. Bunny Hops:
    • Get into a squat position.
    • Jump forward while maintaining the squat position.
    • Land softly and immediately jump forward again.

Conclusion: Adding plyometrics improves running performance and reduces running related injuries

The study  demonstrates that incorporating hopping exercises into your training routine can lead to enhanced running economy, increased muscle power, better coordination, and a reduced risk of injury. It also reinforces other studies on the use of strength training for runners, ( read more here) and skipping,(read more here), as a warm up for runners and how they improved economy and reduced injury rates.

If you want a home strength program for prevention of running injuries and improving your running performance get in contact with us here

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Progressive daily hopping exercise improves running economy in amateur runners: a randomized and controlled trial