Benefits of Isometric Exercises for Runners

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Whenever we go out for a run or want to strengthen our muscles for efficient running, we do a large number of exercises involving squats, striding, star jumps, etc. We understand that running is all about moving our skeletomuscular system. It requires excellent coordination between legs and hands. However, we need to remember that it also requires a balanced posture. Surprisingly many best performance-boosting exercises want you to remain static and steady. These exercises are known as isometric exercises.

Understanding Isometric Exercises

Isometric exercises contract a muscle group without altering joints that may involve ligaments and tendons. Let us take an example to understand this. Plank is a good example of isometric exercise. Here we stabilize our body by using core muscles which include glutes, quads, abs, and the entire lower body. It helps in correcting postures and we are achieving all this without moving legs and arms.

In employing any muscle system while running or doing any other physical activity, we have three stages of muscle movement. Concentric, which means shortening, isometric, which means normal length, and eccentric, which means lengthening. For example, when we do a long jump, we initiate a jump by lengthening our muscles followed by our landing which due to the momentum of our movement goes into shortening of muscles. We balance our body and bring back the muscles in an isometric state. This state provides us with balance, correct posture and prevents us from injuries.

Benefits of Isometric Exercises

  1. Build Endurance – We all know that we have carbohydrates stored in the muscles, which are consumed first when a muscle is utilized to do a task. Increased efficiency means increased endurance. The contact resistance, which we provide to a muscle group, hence increases strength and endurance. We all know that to go far we need endurance, thus for endurance runners, these exercises are extremely useful.

2. Stability and Posture – Most of the time we suffer from injuries during running due to the wrong posture. As we do dynamic training, we often train one side better than the other. This also creates an imbalance. Isometric exercises provide stability and strength to the muscle group as a whole leading to correct posture and better stability.

3. Performance-Related Development – As we progress in our training such as distance and speed, we need our muscles also to respond in accordance with the load. However, most of the time we keep our strength training the same and increase the other loads. This leads to underperformance of the muscle groups, which are essential to running. Isometric training naturally improves the functioning of the muscles thereby supporting our training loads as we increase them. Isometric exercises also help support tendons and ligaments thereby helping to absorb trauma and shock more efficiently.

4. Prevent Overuse of Joints – While running or doing other cardiovascular exercises, we put our joints constantly under stress. If we chose an exercise that further increases stress levels on our joints, it may lead to injuries. Also, some people who already suffer from joint pains or arthritis may not be able to do dynamic exercises. Isometric exercises put no load on joints whatsoever. They further help muscle groups, tendons, and ligaments to stabilize the joints and absorb shocks more efficiently.

5. Lowers Blood Pressure – Cardiovascular exercise is an excellent way to reduce your blood pressure. However, at times due to any medical conditions, it is difficult to do running. Isometric resistance training is an excellent way to reduce blood pressure. It basically utilizes the muscle group and the system starts asking for more blood. It thus reduces arterioles resistance thereby reducing blood pressure.

When to do it

We can fix a day in our training schedule for isometric training. We can also supplement our easy run days by such training efforts. These exercises do not take much time and hence can be part of our regular daily routine. Yoga has various postures, which are isometric exercises and provide amazing results. All you need is about 15 to 20 minutes and you are on your way to build muscles, correct posture, and increase endurance.

Article by: Capt Jitender Harjai Fitness expert H2f Care

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