Why are Squats beneficial For Runners?

You all must be aware of the fact that strong and healthy legs are the basic requirement for running miles regularly. Scientific evidence shows that strength training improves the running pace and along with many other positive effects. One of the best ways of ensuring legs & glutes strength is squatting. Performing squats on a running day might look tiring or give you a hard-running time but its benefits certainly outweigh that pain. In this article, we have broken down the benefits and relation between squats & running.

How squat is transferred to running?

The activity of running involves the propulsion of the body by the legs. It is done by flexing & extending your knee, hip & ankle at some time in your running clothes. This act is done against the force of gravity & often done quickly. The force you absorb & return has a direct impact on your running speed & determines how efficient you’re at doing this activity. In the sport sciences, gym-based workouts are categorized with the sports action they match. Based on the degree of their correspondence. In simple words the exercises that match with what is needed & give it for boosting the sport performance. Squats overlap the area of dynamic correspondence. Joint actions & muscles that are used in both of the activities are the same. Which means squatting has a direct influence.

For athletes, the level of competition is always growing and they have to become bigger, stronger & faster. And particularly for runners, this statement is very true. For that, they must do strengthening workouts but not every strengthening workout is equally beneficial for runners. Squats can benefit runners up to a significant degree and events.

  • Muscles Worked

The squat is one of the central workouts in strength training programs because of the muscle groups it works out. It is more like a full-body workout because, for this reason, it improves your full-body strength. The primary targets of this squatting are the muscles in your legs such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus. It also develops strengthening in the lower back calf muscles, hip flexors, abdominals & obliques. They are the primary muscle groups that are used in the running activity.

  • Squats and Speed

As we mentioned earlier your quadriceps & hamstrings influence your running performance. Because these are muscles that straighten & bend the legs while you are performing this activity in running clothes. According to the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, doing squats for leg strengthening significantly increases running speed.

Benefits of squats for running

1)  Knee Stability

The biggest myths about squats are that they are bad for the knees. Recent studies have shown that people who perform squat regularly tend to have more strong and stable knees than those who don’t. Your knee stability primarily depends on four major ligaments:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
  • Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
  • lateral collateral ligament (LCL)

A lot of runners struggle with knee ligament injuries. The muscles surrounding the joint offer secondary dynamic stability. This means building the muscles around the knees by doing squats helps a lot in preventing knee damage because of torn, twisted, and weak ligaments.

2) Increased Leg Power

Strengthened legs provide a lot of obvious & non obvious benefits to running athletes. Running regularly increases your muscular endurance while building muscular strength. Squats are a very effective and efficient way of building muscular strength. Boosted muscular strength is what helps a runner in running faster on flat grounds, hills. Well-developed muscles help your body to utilize oxygen efficiently, by lessening fatigue. Leg strengthening by squatting directly improves your running performance. Additionally, it plays a crucial role in sprinting. Squatting helps with explosive finish-line sprints and starts.

3) Improved Body Awareness

Another term that is used for describing Body awareness is called proprioception. It is the sense of being aware of the relative body parts & the amount of strength required for employing the movement. It is the awareness about body position, its movement, alignment, posture & acceleration without relying on visual cues.

Most of the running injuries are the result of movement faults like losing posture, misalignment of the knees, improper loading of hips & ankles. Doing squats correctly can address all these movement faults effectively & train the body in recognizing the posture collision or if any of your body parts and movement is miss-aligned. Practicing squats improve your body and brain coordination and in correcting all the movement faults.

How to do squat like a pro:

For doing a squat start with extending both of your arms at your front or overhead. Then start sinking your hips slowly till your thighs become perfectly parallel to the ground, and make a sharp angle of 90-degree. This depth can be good for beginners. If you are already a pro, going deeper is better for good mobility. Your bum should be below parallel in deeper squats. While you are standing back, avoid letting the back cave in. Keep both of your knees at the back of the toes, and your whole weight on the heels. Make sure you keep your back straight and upright while you are squatting down. If this air squat is simple and quite basic to you try performing different variations of squats for adding challenge.

Common Squat Mistakes

Following are some of the common mistakes that most people make while performing squats. It only reduces their effectiveness and makes sure you avoid them

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  • Not lowering your body Far Enough – One of the most common mistakes that people do with squats is not lowering their bodies enough. It can be fixed simply by making a wider stance. It will help in making their body steady while they are lowering it down. Winder stance engages more muscle. The ideal depth of squats is your hips going below your knees. If you are a beginner you can be easy on it but focus on perfecting the techniques. The lower you go, the more effective the squat will be.
  • Drifting of Knees Inward – Pointing the knees inward makes the squats comfortable but compromises the gains. Try to turn the toes outwards to prevent the knees from pointing inward. Technically, the knees should be aligned in a line with the ankles & hips. It will help with avoiding all types of injuries.
  • Leaning Too Far Forward – Beginners can lean too forward while performing the squat. Doing this will only make the squat more ineffective. Most of the weight should be placed on the heels while dropping for the squat. It will distribute your body weight evenly by keeping your torso upright and straight.

Dropping Down Too Fast – Some people tend to drop down fast while performing the squat. But doing this will only compromise on the gains. Adding weight and slow downward movement will increase their gains while reducing the chances of injuries.

Effects of Squats on the Distance Running Performance

A Lot of people believe in the false myths that squatting is bad for distance running. They stay away from performing squatting & keep their focus on increasing the mileage for each week. Which isn’t a good approach. The muscles that are utilized in squatting are the same muscle used in running. Squirting improves posture, balance, mobility, coordination and develops strength that is good for long-distance runners. The easiest approach is to start implementing squats for one or two days a week in your running routine.

It will also make your knees more stable & less vulnerable to pain and injuries while improving the recovery period for your legs. Which will lessen your long-run fatigue. The increase in 1RM of squat allows the runner to produce more force by the ground, as the contact with ground becomes lower at high velocity runs. It helps in producing high power, for fast tempo runs. Long runs can lead to issues, like the mobility of hip flexors, lower back pain & weak quadriceps squatting helps with that. All because of the squatting technique. Squats are a beneficial & strength proficient exercise that gives the power to distance running regardless of your fitness level.

How Often Should Runners Squat?

A squat is one of the complex & demanding exercises, it should be always performed after running. You can skip them on your non running days. If you incorporate weight or perform some variation of squats then they must be performed after running sessions. It will ensure that the hard run will stay easy on your body. Beginners should focus more on perfecting their squatting technique. As they are just relying on their body weight.

The downside of Skipping the Squats

If you suffer from any kind of injury that prevents squatting, you do not need to stress out. Instead, you can perform squats with some other workout that images similar muscle groups such as lunges. Similar workouts will also strengthen your glutes, hips, hamstrings, & quads. Having weaker muscles in those regions can significantly affect your running ability. The injury rate among runners raises to 70% every year, strength training plays a key role in preventing those injuries. So, don’t shy away from incorporating strengthening workouts into your running routine.

Guest Post by James Wilson, Born Tough | Elite Sports