The 4 phases of running … which muscles are engaged?
Understanding which muscles are engaged during the different phases of running can help you identify your weaknesses and therefore concentrate on strengthening them.
Even though most muscles used are in the lower body, you need to have upper body strength as well, and this is because during all four phases the core, specially Tva muscles, and adductors are engaged in holding your trunk and hips stable, also the shoulders rotate to swing your arms and your biceps are contracted throughout the run.
Toes leave the ground, leg swings forward causing hip flexion, knee extension and ankle dorsiflexion ( hip flexors/ quads/ shin)
Phase 2: Foot Contact Phase
Full body weight on one foot as heel contacts the ground (calves and quads absorb impact while gluteus medius and ITB engage to stabilise the body laterally)
Phase 3: Mid-foot Loading Phase
From foot to push off (calves engage for plantar flexion and hip extension powered by gluteus max)
Phase 4: Toe-off Phase
Heel leaves the ground, toes push off as body moves forward (hip extension contracts the gluteus max and flexion of the knee the hamstring)
When I ask runners which they think are the main running muscles, almost every one replies: quads and hamstring. By dissecting the running movement into phases you can clearly see that we engage a variety of muscles but the gluteus group (med/max) is the one we engage the most.
Strengthening your glutes will help you become a stronger runner, as well as avoid injuries caused by other muscles overworking to compensate for weak glutes.
For more information on how to achieve this or any other fitness/running relating questions please contact me.
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