Strength Training for Runners

girl runningIn an effort to improve fitness, many people decide to try running. Its easy, right? Just lace up a pair of shoes and head out the door. However, every sport comes with the potential for injury no matter how “easy” it may appear. And, running is no exception. This is especially true for the runner who ignores strength training for injury prevention.

Forces of Running

Running requires a substantial amount of stability and strength to withstand the enormous amounts of impact. In fact, the body can experience impacts equal to three times the body weight during running. Imagine the extreme pressure this puts on muscles and joints! With each landing step, the pressure moves from feet, to knees and hips, and up through the trunk. Within the hips and core are some of the biggest muscles in the body, and they do most of the work during running. For this reason, strength training for injury prevention should focus on the hips and core.

pistol squatTo put it another way, imagine doing a single leg squat with one leg off the ground. If a person is not strong enough to perform this move, then they will likely experience aches and pains from running. In essence, the motion of running is equal to performing a single leg squat repeatedly, with the addition of heavy impact. The risk for injury seems obvious.

Effects of Sitting

Many of us spend a large part of our day sitting. Sitting at work, sitting in the car, and sitting at home in front of the TV. All of this sitting makes the muscles on the backside of our body weak from lack of use. In addition, the sitting posture contracts the muscles on the front of our body. Together, the weak back and contracted front muscles create an imbalance. During running, this imbalance can lead to poor bio mechanics and, over time, injury. While that 30-minute morning run may be good for the heart, without a stable core and strong hips, it might be doing more harm than good.

Strength Training for Injury Prevention

Most research on strength training for injury prevention in runners focuses on hips. Strengthening the hip muscles (hip abductors and external rotators) does help keep the knee in line with hip. This is good advice to prevent mild knee pain from patellar tendonitis and shin splints. At the same time, if a runner only works on hip strength, ignoring core stability they haven’t gained the full benefit.

Think of the body like a tree in a hurricane. The roots are the legs and the branches are the arms. The only thing connecting root and branches is the trunk, or core. The roots can be super strong, but if the core is weak, shearing and compressive forces will still destroy the tree. The best injury prevention comes from having both strong hips and a stable core.

Written by: Shauna Ericksen MS, ATC athletic trainer for The Center Foundation and Summit High School in Bend, OR. Learn more about Shauna HERE.

The Center Foundation places dedicated athletic trainers in local high schools to provide sports medicine services to young athletes at no charge to the students or their families. Learn more about our work HERE.



Willy, R. W., & Davis, I. S. (2011). The Effect of a Hip-Strengthening Program on Mechanics During Running and During a Single-Leg Squat. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 41(9), 625-632. Retrieved December 3, 2018, from


Brain Trust Program Highlight

The Back Story

Years ago, a car hit a young boy from Bend while he was riding his bike. He was not wearing a helmet. The boy arrived in the ER where one of The Center Foundation’s board members, a neurosurgeon, was on call. Tragically, the boy did not survive in spite of the surgeon’s best efforts. As a result, The Center Foundation developed their Brain Trust Program, which includes education, outreach, and concussion management protocols.

Train Your Brain

train your brain programWith the intention of preventing further tragedies like this one, The Center Foundation adopted programs to educate grade school kids on the importance of protecting their brain and spinal cord.  The resulting program, called Train Your Brain, provides age-appropriate, research-based curriculum.

Today, The Center Foundation brings Train Your Brain presentations to third-grade classrooms across Central Oregon. The goal is to reach young people early enough to create a lifetime of safety habits. To achieve this, kids learn brain and spinal cord anatomy and injury prevention techniques. These active and fun sessions conclude with a melon-drop helmet demonstration.

mom and kid on bikeSessions focus on teaching the importance of helmet use, proper fitting, and overall safety. If children do not have a helmet, The Center Foundation gives them a new helmet free of charge.

Each year, Train Your Brain comes to over 2,000 students in area schools, and distributes more than 1,200 multi-sport helmets to those in need. If your child needs a multi-sport helmet, please call Stuart Schmidt at 541-322-2323.

Concussion Protocol

Protecting student athletes from closed head injuries begins well before an athlete actually suffers a concussion. The Center Foundation uses the following best practices to manage concussions and reduce the incidence of Second Impact Syndrome:

  • Athletes in high-risk sports take a pre-season baseline ImPACT test every two years. Comparing baseline results to post-injury results at the appropriate stage in recovery helps guide the rehabilitation process.
  • Next, athletic trainers and physicians work with teachers, coaches, and athletic directors to identify the signs and symptoms of a concussion.
  • In addition, The Center Foundation educates students and their parents on concussion awareness, signs and symptoms, and the importance of reporting their injury immediately.
  • Most importantly, the moment a concussion is suspected, a young athlete is removed from play until assessed and cleared by a qualified health care professional.

ImPACT Testing

impact group baseline testingThe Center Foundation believes that it is important for young people to participate in an active lifestyle. In fact, studies have repeatedly shown a positive correlation between sports participation and academic outcomes. Moreover, young people who play sports are at decreased risk for drug and alcohol use.  Unfortunately, it is also true that the speed, power, and momentum required for excelling in sports sometimes results in serious head injuries.

With this in mind, The Center Foundation partnered with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in 2000. The result was the first high school concussion baseline testing program west of the Mississippi. Today, Central Oregon high school athletes are part of a progressive program setting new standards for concussion diagnosis and treatment.

ImPACT is a computerized evaluation system. When used to capture the baseline state of a child’s normal mental function, it becomes a powerful tool in deciding when it is safe for an athlete to return to contact sports. Therefore, high school athletes competing in high risk sports are tested every two years between the ages of 12 and 18. This helps maintain a current baseline test for each student on file. In most cases, tests are conducted by the school’s athletic trainer at no cost to the student or their families.

In addition, The Center Foundation offers community baseline testing days several times per year. Any child between the ages of 12 and 18 that has not been tested at their school can participate. The cost is $15 per child and space for upcoming test dates can be reserved by calling 541-322-2323.


Brain Trust Program – Protecting the Young Brain

Unfortunately, concussions do occur in nearly all physical activities. Concussions are serious injuries that can affect a person in all areas of their lives, including physical, emotional, and mental. Once a concussion occurs, it is imperative to remove the young athlete from play until their brain heals. If this doesn’t happen, the child is at risk for a devastating secondary concussion. Second Impact Syndrome occurs when a person suffers a second concussion before they have fully healed from the first concussion. During this condition, the brain swells rapidly, and sometimes even fatally.

girl on bike

Thanks to Max’s Law in the state of Oregon, protocols require at least seven days off from sports following an initial concussion. While it might not be possible to prevent concussions from occurring in the first place, it is possible, and imperative, that secondary concussions are avoided at all costs.

Overall, the goal of the Brain Trust Program is to protect the brains and health of young people and reduce catastrophic brain injuries. Through education, management protocols, and increased symptom awareness, the foundation strives to achieve its mission to keep kids safe in sports.

Written by: Shawn Taylor, program administrator for The Center Foundation in Bend, OR. Learn more about Shawn HERE.

The Center Foundation places dedicated athletic trainers in local high schools to provide sports medicine services to young athletes at no charge to the students or their families. Learn more about our work HERE.



Bernstein, Lenny. “A growing body of evidence links exercise and mental acuity,” published May 25, 2010 at . Access date: May 6, 2019.

“Exercise ‘boosts academic performance’ of teenagers,” published October 21, 2013 at . Access date: May 2, 2019.

“The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance.” July 2010, available at Access date: May 7, 2019.