by Devin Blessing, DPT, OCS >> Request an Appointment
There is little debate in the literature that strength training is important for runners to improve performance and reduce injury. The problem is most runners have a hard time fitting it into their programs. Enter: loaded carries. They are simple yet effective exercises that check a lot of essential boxes for runners. Single leg stability? Check. Lateral hip strength? Check. Core strength? Check.
There are three different variations I like to include in programs. The Loaded March checks all the boxes mentioned above and helps improve your running gait. Make sure to land ball of the foot first and then lower the heel to the ground. This helps prevent over-striding.
Loaded Heel-Toe Walk
Whether you are a heel or forefoot striker, it's important to progress through your big toe during the final stance phase of gait. The Loaded Heel-Toe Walk trains proper foot progression during gait while challenging balance and core strength.
Loaded Creeper Walk
The soleus muscle undergoes the highest loads of all while running at 6.5-8x your body weight, making it arguably the most important muscle to strengthen for runners. The Loaded Creeper Walk challenges the soleus muscle by having a slightly bent knee and keeping your heel off the ground.
With any loaded carry variation, make sure to stay tall and focus on good posture. Additionally, be sure to challenge yourself with heavy weights to get the most of the exercise. Credit to Chris Johnson for emphasizing the use of loaded carries in strength programming for runners.
Try these out and let us know what you think!