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Listener Question: What Exercises Are Best to Balance with Running?

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Listener Question: What Exercises Are Best to Balance with Running?

Jan 11, 2017

Too much of one exercise, like running, can be unhealthy. That's why sports medicine physician Dr. Nick Monson says runners should do other exercises in addition to running, like biking, swimming or weightlifting. He says people who have a balanced exercise regime experience fewer injuries. Learn some specific things that runners can do to keep themselves balanced.

Episode Transcript

Announcer: Need reliable health and wellness information? Don't listen to the guy in the cube next to you. Get it from a trusted source, straight from the doctor's mouth. Here is this week's listener question on, "The Scope."

Interviewer: All right. Today's listener question comes from somebody who says that they are a runner and they want to know what exercise they should do to balance out their running. They're concerned that they might end up with some sort of a muscle imbalance injury because they run a lot. We've got our expert here. He's a sports medicine expert. His name is Dr. Nick Monson. Is this a common problem, and what should this individual do to balance their running?

Dr. Monson: It is. It's a very common problem. I work a lot with runners. We noticed that runners, number one, most of them are crazy in one way or another, which is why they run. I can say that from personal experience, being a runner. I know that what running does to me is very important and I love it. But at the same time, you have to recognize that too much of one thing ends up wearing and tearing down the body in one way or another.

So being prepared for what you're going to do activity-wise, making sure that you're not just focusing on having huge quads and the ability to run for long distances. Yes, that's important, but the more important part of this, really, is balancing and doing other exercises along with it, in preparation for those runs.

So I don't tell runners that they shouldn't run. I tell runners that they should be doing other things in addition to their running. Biking, swimming. People that end up doing triathlons along with marathons or other things end up having a lot better strength throughout their body. Their core strength, meaning the muscles around the abdomen and lower back. They get stronger and we see fewer injuries as that occurs.

The hip muscles, those are highly important to a good running technique and we start to notice that those improve as people vary what they're doing for exercise, as well. Rest in between activities that they're doing is also very important to allow a muscle group to recover and then strengthen up.

Interviewer: Are there any particular exercises in particular that are better than others? Like, I've often heard running and you should balance it maybe with the stationary bike or cycling. That's a good yin to the yang.

Dr. Monson: Yeah. Yeah. I do. I think that it's tough to beat what you get out of swimming. That is highly beneficial for people. I think biking adds an excellent component to it. Actually, being in the gym and working on actual muscle groups two to three times a week is an excellent idea because then you can actually focus on the muscles that you're not able to specifically address by doing the biking, by doing the running. And a lot of those have to do with the core and they have to do with the hip muscles and those can be addressed the old, dirty way, laying on a mat and getting down and sweaty.

Interviewer: Do you find that people that tend to do these balancing exercises tend to be injured less?

Dr. Monson: I don't know, I never see them. I guess so, right?

Interviewer: In theory, right?

Dr. Monson: Yeah. Yeah.

Interviewer: So you would highly recommend that perhaps somebody . . .

Dr. Monson: I would, yes.

Interviewer: Fair enough. And how much of the thing that I don't like to necessarily do, like riding my bike if I'm a runner, do I need to do to get that balance?

Dr. Monson: I think if you gave yourself a good . . . the typical teaching. I mean, if I was to have just the perfect patient, which runners never are. You should recognize that first, they're just never the perfect patient. But if they were, they'd probably give themselves a 48-hour rest between runs and have an opportunity to allow those muscle groups to recover.

And in between, you're still working out other muscle groups. And it doesn't mean that you can only run three or four times a week, or do exercise three or four times a week. It means that you're limiting what you're doing, as far as one repetitive motion, to three or four times per week.

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