Running is a great sport regardless of why you are doing it. Some run to lose weight. Others run to get fit and tone muscles. Many run for the cardio benefit it provides them.
The fact is running works several different groups of muscles…
Running works the large lower body muscle groups, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors and buttocks. All of these groups work in unison:
• The quadriceps, on the front of your leg between your hip and knee, work to extend and move your leg forward.
• The hamstring, on the back of your leg opposite your quadriceps, lifts and helps the knees bend your leg back and up at the end of a stride.
• The hip flexors also help bring up your leg, but they also help stabilize your body.
• The calf, between your knee and ankle, helps flex the knee and supports the ankle.
• The gluteus maximus in the buttocks does its part in maintaining the trunk in an upright position.
This major group of muscles includes:
• abdominal core.
While they are not directly used in running, their work is important.
Biceps: If you run like most people with your arms bent at a 90-degree angle, it is your biceps in the contracted position on the front of your upper arm that allows you to keep your arms bent.
Triceps: Moving your arms back and forth, while bent, works the triceps on the back of your upper arm and your shoulder muscles. The triceps is also the muscle that allows you to straighten your arm.
Abdominal Core: Both the upper and lower abdominal groups do their part in keeping you upright by maintaining good posture and balance. The back muscles support your spine while the stomach muscles help lift your legs and stretch, so your lungs can further expand allowing them to draw in as much air as possible.
The part of this group that aids you in running are the intercostals – both internal and external. These are the muscles that run between the ribs and together form the chest wall. The externals are used to breathe air in, while the internals are used to exhale. As you breathe while running, these muscles are constantly expanding and contracting.
As you can see, several different muscles groups play a big part in allowing you to run. And regardless of how careful you are, you run a high risk of eventually sustaining an injury – 70% of runners do.
However, with the proper warm-up before a run, form during a run, and strength training and abdominal core exercises between runs, you can go a long way in minimizing your risk for an injury.