Use Downhill Running To Improve Your Efficiency

Uphill running requires mental strength, which can slow down your speed. To improve speed and prevent injury and soreness, use downhill running to improve your efficiency. Some runners believe that uphill running is the best way to improve speed and stamina, but the stress to the joints may cause an injury if correct posture is not maintained. Both uphill and downhill running performed together, or on alternate days, help to improve leg speed, prevent muscle soreness, and prevent injury.

Running causes muscle soreness, especially if you run on various terrains to improve your speed, distance, and incline. All new exercises performed by the body, including weights or aerobic exercises, meet with Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). This creates muscular pain for 24 to 72 hours afterward. An easy and beneficial way to avoid this pain is to participate in downhill running. Carry a timer and try downhill running for a set amount of time and muscle soreness could be greatly avoided.

What is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)?

DOMS takes place when the muscles encounter a higher than normal quantity of eccentric movements. Eccentric movements shorten the muscle while the original exercise movement elongates the muscle. A regular muscle to undergo eccentric movements is the quadriceps. Gravity pulls down the knee (knee flexion) each time the foot strikes the ground. The impact stretches the quads at the same time they attempt to shorten, which prevents extreme knee flexion.

The high tension and repetitive strain occurs ninety times per leg per minute in runners and may cause damage to the quadriceps over time. Although normal running protects the quadriceps to some degree because they grow used to the continuous eccentric movements, if you increase your training, the quadriceps may be unable to maintain the additional stress, which then causes muscle injury. Downhill running assists greatly, as it helps the body to become accustomed to the extra training without causing unbearable pain or injury.

The Benefits of Downhill Running

Downhill running expands the eccentric movements in the quadriceps because the legs fall farther with each stride. The increase in speed of each leg offers an easier force when the foot hits the ground and, as a result, the forces that produce knee flexion are higher. The quadriceps carry out their resistance of knee flexion, but the pressure to maintain this is higher. Microscopic tears occur in the connective tissues and muscle fibers of the quadriceps. This sounds worse than it is, but the controlled damage on a small scale connected with synchronized downhill running forces the quadriceps to strengthen and adapt. When exerted, the muscles become much more resistant to injury. Downhill running sounds painful, but when added to normal running, it is beneficial for the legs.

Use downhill running to improve your efficiency by leaning the body slightly forward to at least 90 percent of the slope and allow your body weight to continue the work. Aim to land on the ball of your foot rather than the heel to build speed. Relax the arms, shoulder, and legs, as tension could slow you down.


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