It’s easy to have a love-hate relationship with running and, if you’ve been on a roll (well done, you!), it’s likely you’re feeling on top of the world. But all it takes is one little injury to throw your fitness plans off-course.

As it turns out, your running form may be what’s setting you back. According to a report published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, up to 56% of runners experience overuse injuries like shin splints and knee aches each year, and the way you run may be partly to blame: runners who first strike the ground with their forefeet experience fewer knee injuries than their heel-striking counterparts, this study found.

“It’s well documented that exercise will improve sexual arousal for women,” explains Tierney Lorenz, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Kinsey Institute in the US. But now research has confirmed picking up a pair of weights could be all you need to improve your bedroom stamina. “A moderate to intense strength-training workout increases the arousal window to about 90 minutes,” Lorenz says.

“We tested exercise sessions that were 30 minutes long, but even 20 minutes would be sufficient. Shorter than that and the body will recover too quickly to take advantage of the effect.” Suddenly, that leg press machine is looking a whole lot more enticing!

The common cause

It all comes down to form, according to a study by Juha-Pekka Kulmala, a PhD candidate at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. His research found that landing on the ball of your foot causes 16% less pressure on the lower knee. “Rear-foot strikers use mainly the knee joint as an energy absorber”, which generates a higher risk for injury, Kulmala explains. Before you think of changing your stride—which can take anywhere from eight weeks to six months—try some simpler ways to protect your knees during runs. Kulmala suggests smaller, quicker steps to reduce the force of impact on your knee.

The quick fix

For added armour, it’s all about strength training, according to Reed Ferber, director of the Running Injury Clinic at the University of Calgary in Canada. “Research shows that strengthening the gluteus medius muscles (the muscles on the side of your hips) is critical. These muscles are responsible for stabilising knees and hips when you’re balancing on one foot—which is what happens with each footfall when you run. If they aren’t strong, then other muscles need to compensate, and this often leads to injury,” Ferber says. “Our research has shown that strength gains can occur within three weeks—which beats the eight weeks of training to learn how to run completely different.” A few minutes of strength training to minimise your chance of injury? Sounds worth it to us.

Your #1 strengthening exercise

STEP 1: Lie on your right side, supporting your head on your hand. (If this position bothers your neck, fold your arm down and rest your head on it.) Bend your left leg, placing your foot flat on the floor in front of your right leg. Your right leg is extended and slightly forwards.

STEP 2: Using your inner thigh muscles, lift your right leg towards the ceiling at least 15 centimetres. Hold, and then slowly lower. Repeat on the other side.

Do two sets of 10 to 12 reps on each leg every other day (and it can be done in front of the TV!)


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