Building Leg Strength for Runners for Less Back, Hip, Knee, and Foot Pain

Running injuries getting in the way of your goals? While a seemingly safe introductory exercise to many fitness goals, running can be one of the most injurious activities without the proper strength to support our bodies. When we run we spend about 60% of our time in a single leg stance which is why we need adequate strength in our legs to avoid injury.

Weakness in our legs can contribute to everything from increased foot pronation (arch pain and shin splints), knee valgus (knee pain), and a decrease in hip strength can contribute to back and IT band pain. All things that will keep you on the sidelined for a prolonged period of time if not corrected.

In this article we cover our favorite single leg strengthening exercises for runners that will help you run with less back, hip, knee and foot pain.

1. Running Man

A seemingly simple exercise the running man incorporates foot and hip strength with balance and motor control for a full body exercise that is incredibly beneficial to keeping runners injury free. Do this for a minute on each side and feel the burn on the outside of your hip.


2. Reverse Lunge Slides

Reverse Lunge Slides are one of our favorite ways to introduce lunge patterning and building strength in our lower extremity. Its a simple movement that is easy to progress with the addition of weights.


3. Single Leg Deadlift

Because most of spend majority of our days on our butts at a desk. Strengthening our posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, calves) takes priority when building strength for runners.. The single leg deadlift is one of the best ways to challenge these muscle groups while improving balance, control, and movement patterning.

Note: Only perform until you feel tension in your hamstrings. You will be able to go further but that will involve rounding of the low back.


Evolve Performance Healthcare helps runners maintain and improve their running routines so they can run further with less pain. If you have questions about you specific case, schedule a time to speak to one of our specialists for free.