Running is an amazing way to target different parts of your body at the same time. It isn’t considered a muscle-building exercise, but it does strengthen and tone various muscles in your body while providing excellent health benefits!
Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t just work your lower leg muscles. Here are the various muscles running helps strengthen:
1. Abdominal Muscles
Also known as your abs, this is your core, and a strong core is needed for all your muscles to function harmoniously.
Among all the muscle groups, running would one and strengthen your rectus abdominus and intercostals. The Rectus Abdominus is a set of muscles running along the center of your ab muscles, the long and flat muscles on your abs’ sides. The intercostals are muscles between your ribs.
Running works these muscles most because they are mostly used as you inhale and exhale heavily as you run.
With strong upper and lower abdominal muscles, it can help maintain proper form as you run longer distances, preventing injuries. It also helps keep all your muscles together, which is why many runners focus on working their abs. These muscles connect your upper and lower body, keeping them erect and affecting your gait.
2. Hip Flexors
Each time you lift your thighs high, you use your hip flexors. These are the muscles you feel the stretch as you move the thigh to your stomach.
They work with your abs and thigh muscles to lift and move your leg forward not just in running, but other activities such as swinging your leg or climbing steps.
Known as the Gluteals, these are muscles in your buttocks, with running have a direct effect on them. You can feel your glutei contracting as you run up slopes, sit up, or push things with your leg. These muscles are also used as you sit, stand, or squat.
There are three primary muscles under the glutes, which are the Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus medius, and Gluteus minimus. The Gluteus Maximus is the biggest muscles in our bodies, but all three are still just as crucial!
These muscles stabilize your legs and body while running, adding power as you properly forward.
4. Thigh Muscles
Under the thigh muscles are the quadriceps and hamstrings.
The quadriceps are your femurs, vests lateralis, vests medals, and your vests intermedium.
Quadri means four in Latin, standing for four muscles. Three of those muscles are attached to your kneecap from your femur, while the rectus femurs attach from your hip to kneecap. Running would naturally strengthen your quads, developing those muscles.
The hamstrings are located behind your legs, the same with your biceps, which are contracted as you fold your elbows. Hamstrings are affected as you stretch, extend, or contract your lower legs. This is crucial to swinging your leg forward and backward.
You use hamstrings more when running as you constantly extend and flex your lower legs. Furthermore, your hamstrings bring your lower leg to the buttocks, preventing your legs from overextending.
It’s important to strengthen your hamstrings with separate exercises, as weaker hamstrings can cause sprains and muscle pulls, particularly during intense runs.
5. Calf Muscles
The calf muscles are below and behind your knees, which are needed for better movement of your toes. When you move your toes, you most likely feel your calves flex. Speaking of toes, running would also work on your big toe, as you push off with it with every step you take. Your bog toes would stabilize your feet as you run!
And if you’ve noticed, experienced runners have very shaped and toned calf muscles because of how much work it does as you run.
Your calf muscles would be sure as you go on longer runs because your calves do major lifting of your legs when running. While they may be ignored, these muscles ensure that your angles and legs are sprain-free.
6. Your Heart!
Running takes a lot of heart, both literally and figuratively!
Your heart is a working muscle and the most important muscle. Without it pumping blood around your body, you won’t be a blessing to live!
As you run, your heart muscles strengthen, allowing it to pump blood more efficiently.
That’s why running is considered a heart-healthy cardiovascular exercise. Such exercises are crucial and beneficial to maintain excellent heart health. That way, it prevents the risk of heart diseases, keeps your overall body health, and many more advantages!
7. Tibialis Anterior
When moving your toes up rather than down, your anterior muscles are used. These run down the front of your shins.
If they get sore, then you may suffer shin splints, which is a common problem beginner runners have. But as you continue running, your tibialis anterior strengthens, so the pain begins to vanish.
When turning your toes out, certain muscles near the ankles and heels get stretched. These are the Peroneals, running down the sides of your shins. Your peroneals are used for dorsiflexing, which refers to the movement of your ankle bending backward.
9. Upper Body Muscles
YES, running can also work on your upper body, even if much of the work is placed on the legs. Your upper body is used most when you’re sprinting, as all your muscles are engaged.
There are several muscle groups in your upper body that running relies on. The most important ones are your arms, chest, back, and shoulders.
- Your arms maintain rhythmic motions that coordinate with your lower body, improving your form
- The biceps help maintain a bent arm, allowing you to swing your arms with even more power
- The shoulders are above your elbows, allowing you to flex and rotate your elbows and forearms. This enhances your balance and the forward propulsion
- Your back muscles help maintain proper posture and prevent injuries
If you want to learn more about the muscles used when running and their importance, check out this informative video:
Now that you know the muscles used in running, work to strengthen them with the right exercises!