Strength and Conditioning isn’t just for runners

Strength and Conditioning isn’t just for runners

As you may be aware I am in the process of refurbishing my clinic so I can provide much more comprehensive rehab programmes for my patients and help runners incorporate strength and conditioning into their training programme without feeling overwhelmed with it all.  I recently chatted with a runner who had been set 2 different programmes to follow in the gym.  Each was an hour long and focused on either upper or lower body.  They felt somewhat daunted by this so hadn’t yet been to the gym to train.  There’s so much more that you can do either in the gym or at home with a few bits of key equipment.  20-30 mins a couple of times a week is plenty to reduce the risk of becoming injured and strengthening your whole body.  You can do a whole body workout that includes some strength work flexibility and power. (more info to follow)

Strengthening muscles shouldn’t just be for runners though.  We  should all incorporate some type of resistance based exercises into our lifestyle.  The government set guidelines for exercise and recommend at least 2 sessions of strengthening exercises per week for adults.

As we get older we lose muscle mass and this can be up to 5% per decade from the age of 30.  This can lead to what’s known clinically as Sarcopenia (the age related loss of muscle) and there is a link between sarcopenia and increased risk of falls and frailty.  Who wants that!?? I certainly don’t want to become frail as I age and the good news is that you can prevent and even reverse Sarcopenia with exercise.  At any age we can increase our muscle bulk and slow down this aging process.  Now that sounds like a win win situation to me. Even well into old age you can make changes that have a positive effect on your body, physical health and strength.  This lady has recently caught my eye on social media and should be a huge inspiration to us all that with hard work and determination you can make drastic changes.

73-year-old woman starts weightlifting, loses four stone and improves her health

There is now more and more evidence to support the positive effects of adding resistance training to your life.  Some of the benefits already well known are:

*Boosts metabolism- Muscle mass burns more calories at rest, so the more muscle you develop, the more calories you will burn on a daily basis overall. This is known as your BMR (basal metabolic rate) and varies from person to person. If you are looking for fat loss, increasing your BMR means you are more likely to be in a deficit when it comes to calories which will help you improve body composition. Also, when women diet without doing resistance training, especially as age increases, up to 25% of weight loss may be muscle loss. Therefore, weight training helps you to preserve muscle mass.

*Builds strength- Lifting weights can help improve muscular strength and endurance which not only helps with your gym sessions, but your everyday life too! Lifting weights can improve functional fitness which makes day-to-day tasks seem easier. Next time you have to lift up your baby, carry the grocery shopping home or lift a heavy suitcase into the car, you’ll notice an immediate difference! You can also improve your form and posture through correct lifting technique so that these everyday movements are performed more safely and with less risk of injury.

*Maintains healthy bones- Weight-bearing exercises help to build and maintain bone mass. As you develop your muscles and they get stronger, so do your bones. Maintaining bone density can also help with mobility and balance, which is especially important as women age. Weight-bearing exercises coupled with an adequate amount of dietary calcium also reduces the risk of osteoporosis for women.

*Improves body shape- Resistance training helps to build muscle definition and improve physical shape which often leads to increased body confidence. Despite common myths, lifting weights won’t make you bulky! Women do not have the same level of muscle-building hormones as men do. So, if you keep your diet fairly clean and create a calorie deficit, you’ll burn fat.


*Improved mood and energy levels- Similarly to after an aerobic workout, a resistance-based workout releases endorphins (happy hormones) and leaves you feeling positive and energised! Resistance training also causes an increase in energy expenditure for a few hours after you train which can help improve motivation and levels and mood.

*Reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes- Weight training can help to improve cardiovascular health by lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol, and in turn this will help to lower blood pressure.  It may also improve the way the your  body processes sugar, which may reduce the risk of diabetes.

The list goes on!! So why wouldn’t you include some type of resistance training in your life!? Its something we should all be doing regularly but sadly we’re not.  Obesity and inactivity is a huge global problem and is burdening our already straining NHS.  Why shouldn’t we take more ownership of our own health to offload some of this pressure.  There are gyms that cater for all different needs so there really isnt any excuse for not using them.  If not, then you can work out at home.

So what stops people doing strength based exercises?  As a physio I see a wide range of patients and one of the main reasons is lack of knowledge.  Many older patients believe that walking daily is enough to keep them fit.  They are often shocked when I ask them to perform some basic balance and strength tests like a single leg stand and are unable to do it.  Another common reason is that gyms are daunting places that only fit people go to.

Many gym spaces can be daunting for new users

Whilst I have to agree that some gyms are off putting to newcomers there are many now that cater for older adults or women specifically.  Our local gym has run several sessions of very successful courses for weightlifting for women.  Sadly though the are where the weight lifting equipment is, is often dominated by men and can be very intimidating. So how can we help people overcome their fears or add strength based training to their life?

Here at KHPhysiotherapy my goal is to provide each and every patient with at least some form of rehab pr0gramme that includes an element of building strength.  From shoulders to neck and toes to hips, improving strength improves function and ability.  It may be as simple as some exercises to help stabilise the shoulder blade while you put a jumper on or it may be a much more comprehensive programme to build strength in a runner who has weak glues and a hip drop when running.  There’s  nothing that cant be treated with exercise and the first step is educating someone on why and how to exercise.

If you want any help with an injury that is stopping you doing the things you enjoy or want help and advice on incorporating exercise into your life then KHPhysiotherapy clinic is the place for you.  With a fully equipped gym and rehab area you can learn how to include strength training into your life.  You can also practice with gym equipment so that when you visit a local gym you know what you are doing and are confident enough to use their free weights.  If you have any questions about strength and conditioning then please comment below or drop me a message

Remember its not just runners who need S&C in their lives and its never too late to make changes


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