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How Long Until I See Results from my Strength Training?

You know what exercises to do to build your hip strength and prevent injures, but how long does it take to see results? We show you the research.Have you noticed we have focused on hip strength a lot lately? We had a post connecting lower back and hip strength, and another on how hip mobility can determine if you have injuries in your future. Hopefully by now you see just how important hips are within the entire chain of your body and its movements.

Good hip strength has been linked to a lower risk of IT band syndrome, patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS, also known as “runner’s knee”), shin splints, and low back pain, in addition to a lower risk of injury overall.1, 2

However, as runners we can sometimes be stubborn, and ignore the warning signs telling us that this is a pain we should not be running through. Before you know it, you are struggling with one of the above-mentioned injuries. You start going to a good physical therapist who keeps up to date on the latest research on running injuries, and you are prescribed a hip strengthening program for rehab.

How long will it take to build hip strength?

Obviously, every injury is different, but looking to research that uses hip strengthening programs to rehab an injury associated with hip muscle weakness can give us some idea of the timeframe to total recovery.

We will focus on studies that successfully treat running injuries with hip strength rehab programs.

The first study we will look at was published in 2006 by researchers at the University of Kentucky. In this study, a quadriceps and hip abductor strength routine was used to treat PFPS in fourteen subjects.

Over the six-week duration of the study, knee pain gradually diminished, with the decrease becoming statistically significant after four weeks of strength training.

In 2006, a study of PFPS successfully treated thirty-five patients using a six-week hip flexion strength program,4.

Another study in 2000, looked at runners with IT band syndrome following a six-week strength program with success5. However, neither of these studies took week-by-week measurements of knee pain.

A 2011 study matched the four-week marker by demonstrating that a hip strength program resulted in superior results compared to a quadriceps-strengthening program for treating PFPS in runners after four weeks of rehab work.6

A 2011 study by researchers at the University of Calgary showed that a simple hip strength program, completed daily, produced very good results in a small group of runners with PFPS.7 Other than this small study, I have not seen any research using a shorter time period.

Individual differences with rehab

These studies varied in the details of their design, but one element they all shared is that the rehab exercises were done quite frequently—at least three days a week, and in some cases, every day!

Even with regular rehab work, it is likely to take three to four weeks for to see some real results. Remember, these are studies of many individual runners who may have the same injury, but may have varying levels of the injury. For example, someone with only minor hip weakness contributing to IT band syndrome might see results more quickly than a more painful case of IT band syndrome with more significant hip muscle weakness, who may take longer to recover from, even with the right rehab program.

Conclusion

Even the perfect rehab exercise routine will take a while before is has a significant effect, so if you are injured, be patient! You will not return to full strength overnight. Research indicates that successful programs, on average, take three to six weeks to have a significant impact. Give your rehab program at least this long to kick into effect before you ditch it for something else.

During this time, if you cannot run without pain, you can try to maintain your fitness through cross training, assuming it does not irritate your injury. Unfortunately, there is no quick solution to running injuries.

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Running as you age. Is it all bad?

As you get older, your body changes, but by how much? We look at the research comparing older runners to younger runners to see how biomechanics change over time.In the past, we wrote an article on how children can be compared to a spring in the way they run.

By looking at the way children run, and then monitoring the changes as they grow, we hoped to find some useful insights into our own biomechanics.

Today, we are going to follow runners at the opposite end of the spectrum by looking at how running mechanics changes as you age.

If you are an older runner, in your fifties, sixties, or even seventies, do your mechanics fundamentally change compared to a younger runner?

Biomechanical differences

It is no secret that runners do eventually slow down as they age. After the age of forty, runners slow by an average of 1-6 seconds per mile,1, 2, depending on the race distance.

Research published in 2008 by Italian and Brazilian researchers Giovanni Cavagna, Mario Legramandi, and Leonardo Peyré-Tartaruga attempted to illuminate the biomechanical changes that occur in older runners.3

Cavagna et al. recruited eight healthy men in their late sixties to seventies, three of whom were trained runners. The researchers had the men run at different speeds along a fifty-meter runway, recording data about their impact forces, and the motion of their joints. The running mechanics of the older men were compared to the same tests on running-mechanics of college-aged men. Again, three of these subjects were also trained runners.

By examining the differences in running mechanics at a broad range of running speeds (as slow as a thirty-minute mile shuffle and as fast as 5:40 mile pace in the older subjects!), Cavagna, Legramandi, and Peyré-Tartaruga were able to demonstrate certain similarities and differences between the older and younger runners.

Muscular Power

The older runners were not able to generate nearly as much vertical “push” off the ground as the younger runners because of their decreased ability to generate muscular power. In fact, younger runners were able to attain a 75% higher peak vertical acceleration when running at high speeds compared to the older runners.

This lack of muscular power has significant implications on the biomechanics. Younger runners generate vertical power to adopt a longer “loping” stride that spends more time in the air than on the ground.

Older runners cannot generate the same muscular power, and are therefore forced to adopt a much higher stride frequency to run at faster speeds.

In this sense, the concept of the “old man shuffle” has some truth to it.

The inability of older runners to generate enough vertical power to enable an “asymmetric stride”—one which spends more time in the air than on the ground—implies that their efficiency is diminished significantly at speeds faster than 8:45 per mile. This is the point where the most optimal stride patterns change to a floating, asymmetric pattern.

Stride Frequency

An additional barrier to efficient running comes as a result of the higher stride frequency: with less time spent in the air, there is also less time for an older runner to swing his or her legs forward, meaning the “shuffle” must be very quick and inefficient. At higher speeds, this importance is magnified.

Compared to younger runners, older runners become even more inefficient as speeds increase.

If your goal is to avoid or limit these age-related changes in running efficiency, it is pretty clear that you should aim to build or at least maintain your muscular strength.

Cavagna, Legramandi, and Peyré-Tartaruga identify two main reasons why older runners (and older people in general) cannot generate as much muscular power: loss of muscle mass and loss of force production at the cellular level in the muscles. Weight training should address both of these issues.

Conclusion

If you are over the age of fifty, and you are not lifting weights once or twice a week, you should be! Your focus should be on increasing the strength of the major muscles in your legs: the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. These muscles are what generate power during your running stride. Keeping them strong will hopefully stave off the age-related changes in running mechanics.

There might be a silver lining to these changes; a higher stride frequency implies less force going through the body with each step, which might explain why older runners have a lower incidence of many common running injuries.4

So, getting older does not mean all bad news!

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How Ready Will You Be for Your Best Boston?

Racing Boston Marathon in 2015? We have lots of great articles, and a bloggers linkup to learn about how others are getting on in their training build up.Are you excited for the buzz of the Boston Marathon yet? Even if you are not racing, it is impossible to not get swept up in the excitement of it!

This week we have shared a post from Matt Fitzgerald with 10 Tips to Tame the Hills of Boston, and the Ultimate Guide to Downhill Running. We also relaunched our podcast with Boston Marathon race director, Dave McGillivray. We will be adding these to our current Boston Marathon posts to give you everything you need to have your best race possible in April.

 

Here is the full list of all of our Boston Marathon related posts:

How to Train for and Race the Boston Marathon Course: Interview with BAA Coach Terry Shea

4 Key Workouts to Prepare for the Boston Marathon Course

10 Tips to Tame the Hills of Boston

Best Boston- The Ultimate Guide to Running Downhill

Setting up for Success- Boston Marathon Race Director, Dave McGillivray Podcast

3 Race Day Quirks You Must Prepare for in the Final Weeks of Boston Marathon Training

Boston Marathon Pace Calculator

 

We would love to hear how your training is going, and be a place for you to see how others are getting along in their training.

Running the 2015 Boston Marathon? Get our Boston-specific training articles, exclusive access to our VIP Boston events, and the latest on where, when and how to meet the RunnersConnect team. Click here to stay updated

If you are feeling a little overwhelmed, and would like to see how some of the experienced marathoners are approaching their training, check out our c0-hosts for this post:

Carrots ‘n’ Cake

Happy Fit Mama

Mommy Run Fast

An InLinkz Link-up

If all this Boston Marathon talk has you excited, but you have not yet dipped under that magic barrier, you can check this out to Reach Your Boston Marathon Dream.

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Be Ready for Your Best Boston- Guide To Running Downhill

Ask a group of runners from anywhere in the world what races are on their running bucket list, chances are you will hear the same marathons over and over: London, New York, Paris, Frankfurt, Vancouver…

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10 Tips to Tame the Hills of Boston

This guest post was written by Matt Fitzgerald

We are now in Boston Marathon season. With under 16 weeks to go, most Boston Qualifiers will already have started their base training for the pinnacle…

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Training Articles
How Ready Will You Be for Your Best Boston?
Racing Boston Marathon in 2015? We have lots of great articles, and a bloggers linkup to learn about how others are getting on in their training build up.

Are you excited for the buzz of the Boston Marathon yet? Even if you are not racing, it is impossible to not get swept up in the... 

Be Ready for Your Best Boston- Guide To Running Downhill
Boston marathon is known for it's hills. We help you prepare to have your #BestBoston, even if you do not live near any hills!

Ask a group of runners from anywhere in the world what races are on their running bucket list, chances are you will hear the same... 

Read More Training Articles
Nutrition Articles
A Detailed Look at the Diet of an Elite Marathoner
jeffrey-eggleston

In 2014, Jeffrey Eggleston was the 3rd American at the Boston Marathon. At the time, it was a big PR and one of Jeffrey’s... 

Can Pickle Juice Really Cure Muscle Cramps?
Can pickle juice really cure muscle cramping when running? Believe it or not, 3oz of pickle juice can cure muscle cramps when running. Here's the science on why and how it works.

Last week we took a look at what causes exercise-associated muscle cramps, the painful and seemingly random muscle spasms that... 

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Injury Prevention
The Importance of a Full Body Gait Analysis to Achieve Your Running Goals; Interview with Matt Phillips
Have you ever thought running gait analysis was just for the elites? Our interview with Matt Phillips shows how important it is for all runners, and how you can find a reliable source, without breaking the budget!

Our guest today is one of our writers; you may have seen him on our blog. He has written quite a few of our popular articles: Matt... 

How Long Until I See Results from my Strength Training?
You know what exercises to do to build your hip strength and prevent injures, but how long does it take to see results? We show you the research.

Have you noticed we have focused on hip strength a lot lately? We had a post connecting lower back and hip strength, and another... 

Read More Injury Prevention Articles
General Articles
3PRs and several race debuts in the marathon and 15K for Team RunnersConnect

Jerry Kurinsky ran the Chevron Houston Marathon in Houston, Texas finishing in the time of 3:19:49 which is PR by 5 minutes... 

Team RunnersConnect rings in the New Year with some fast and fun runs bringing in 3PRs and several first runs at new race distances.

Siobhan Donegan raced the First Run 5K in Burlington, Vermont coming across the finish line in the time of 22:04 which is a... 

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Interviews and Training Videos

Leading the Way for Masters Runners: Kathy Martin
Masters Runner Kathy Martin has held every world record from the 800m to the 50k, and is continuing to change the rules when it comes to masters running.

We think you are going to really enjoy our guest today, especially those of you who are late starters into the running world. Today we have Kathy Martin, also known as the Running Realtor. Kathy has held, or still holds US and World Records in Every event... 

Setting up for Success; Boston Marathon Race Director, Dave McGillivray
We interview Boston Marathon race director, Dave McGillivray to hear his inspiring story, and learn how the Boston Marathon became as big as it did.

We are very excited to have a special guest to restart the podcast for 2015! It is hard to know where to start; Dave McGillivray has been the Boston Marathon race director since 1981, but he is also the race director of Beach to Beacon and Falmouth. Some... 

Using Running to Give Back: An Interview With Australian Marathon Icon Rob de Castella
Rob de Castella

Many retired elite runners have found meaningful ways to give back to the sport to which they gave so much of themselves. One such runner is Australian marathoner Rob de Castella. Known as a fierce competitor who never gave an inch to anyone, Rob raced... 

See More Videos