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Hill Training and Running Performance

Posted on: Apr 24th, 2017 by The Physio Movement | Categories: Sports Medicine & Nutrition

Hill running is a training method that has received both good and bad reputation, some dislike the hills because they believe it causes injury or its simply too hard and the period for recovery outweighs the benefit of the stimulus, others find it

While there is not a fantastic body of literature with hill running and performance there has been plenty of practical results with incorporating hill running into training. In the early 1960’s a large amount of New Zealand athletes were winning Olympic medals for middle distance running, what changed? Arthur Lydiard had his athletes training more like marathon runners, instead of the classic (at the time) training regime that consisted mostly of interval training. Another important difference was the implementation of hill running, Arthur believed hill sessions to also be key.

Running rolling hills helps the body adapt to greater stress with the changing of cadence and stride lengths, which also improved running economy and reactive power.

Whilst hill running is a fantastic way to help develop improved running economy and stiffness at the joints, for someone who is new to running doing too many hills can put too much strain on the muscle fibres and connective tissues and on the Achilles tendon. Most common cause of running injuries are related to incorrect loading of training, so before incorporating a hill run every week in your initial program, ask the advice of either a running coach or health professional.

Tips For Hill Running

1. Ensure you have a fair amount of running Km’s in the body before moving into including hill running into your training regime.

2. Don’t lean too far forwards when running uphill. Overly tilted forward body posture can move the pelvis into a posterior tilt where the gluteal muscle group (a major force production muscle) does not work efficiently and can stress the low back.

3. Use your arms. Normally the casual endurance athlete has a very relaxed arm swing, compared to the sprint athletes who actively swing their arms, active arm swing is a good way to help generate force at the legs through the stretch shortening cycle, so while climbing those hills and you need a little extra power going up those hills, powerful downward arm swing can help.

4. Cadence, the longer the foot is in contact with the ground the greater eccentric forces the legs experience which in turn leads to greater muscle fatigued and inefficient strides. Using cadence to reduce your contact time and improve muscle efficiency is a great way to help get you over the hill and powering through the run

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