Eccentric Quad Exercises – How They Can Benefit The Runner
Eccentric quad exercises can benefit the runner in many ways.
They can help strengthen the quadriceps muscles for downhill running and make the quads more resilient to fatigue and injuries.
Because many runners lack strength or have muscle imbalances in their quadricep muscles, it can cause poor form and poor tracking of the knee when you run. Because of this, eccentric quad exercises can be used to help relieve knee pain and help improve poor running techniques.
In this article, we share some examples of eccentric quad exercises. We also explain what they are and what benefits they provide to the runner. So, keep reading to learn more.
What Are Eccentric Exercises?
Whenever you place muscles under tension, three contractions can happen. These are called concentric, eccentric, and isometric.
– A concentric contraction happens when muscle fibers shorten.
– Eccentric contraction happens when the fibers lengthen
– Isometric contraction happens when the muscle fibers continue to stay the same length.
Eccentric exercises are usually performed slowly and focus on lengthening muscle contractions. For example, picture yourself lowering your body onto a chair. The slow-motion of this movement (from standing to sitting) is an eccentric contraction.
Another example is when you lower a weight (ie: dumbbell) while maintaining tension throughout the muscle.
When it comes to the eccentric part of running, the eccentric phase is when your quads simultaneously activate and lengthen to absorb the shock of running downhill.
How Can Eccentric Quad Exercises Benefit The Runner?
Research has shown us that downhill running and high volume can cause muscle damage to the knee. High mileage and downhill running can often place extreme pressure on the knee extensors (quads) and the plantar flexors (calves).
As you run downhill, more pressure is placed n the quads as they work as a break. However, they also work simultaneously by controlling your acceleration. This means you are performing eccentric work. However, if you don’t train eccentrically, you may end up causing more damage to the body, as you aren’t used to it.
This is why runners need to add eccentric quad exercises into their strength and weight training program to combat the above.
Examples Of Eccentric Quad Exercises
Below are some examples of eccentric quad exercises that can benefit the runner.
First, stand with your feet together and take the left foot backward. Your left foot should aim to be about a foot length away. Make sure you place your toes on the ground.
Slowly lower the body into a lunge while aiming to keep your front knee slightly behind your right toes. While staying low in the lunge, bring the left foot up next to the right foot. Once both feet are together, stand back up and repeat with the other side.
To do the reverse nordic, start by kneeling on both knees. Make sure your toes are firmly on the floor. While keeping both arms at your side, and your back straight and quads engaged, lean the body backward. Try to lean as far as you can while maintaining a straight line with the body. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
Single-Leg Eccentric Box Squat
Stand in front of a chair or box if you have access to one. Start by lifting your left leg and moving the foot slightly in front of you. While standing firmly on the right foot, move your butt backward and lower into a squat position. Aim to lower your bottom until it touches the chair or box. This should take roughly 5 seconds to accomplish. Then place your left foot back on the ground and drive through until you are in a standing position. Repeat numerous times and then switch sides.
Single-Leg Eccentric Box Squat
To do the single-leg eccentric box squat, start first by placing your foot on a step and pressing downwards. Then drive your knee into the air like a regular step-up. Bring your leg up before slowly lowering your foot onto the floor in front of you.
Once you have reached the ground, reverse the movement until you are in the starting position again.
Eccentric Quad Exercises – Final Words
Adding eccentric quad exercises into your strength training plan will benefit the quadriceps and knees greatly as a runner. However, it is important to start slowly and slowly increase the number of days you focus on these exercises.
It is recommended you start by adding two days a week and gradually move into three days after a month or so.
If you are already struggling with sore quadricep muscles or knees, it is recommended that these recover fully before performing any of the above eccentric exercises.
If you are unsure about the exercises, reach out to a running coach or personal trainer. They will take you through each exercise and make sure you are performing them correctly. They can also check your technique.
Alternatively, if you are unsure of what exercises are right for you, you can answer your question, if you are experiencing sore quads after downhill running or when increasing your weekly mileage.