SCIENCE TALK: Neuromuscular training in runners

There is a post about weight training benefits for runners, you can find it here. That post considers why runners should add strength training in their program, energy system and different types of strength training such as strength, power and endurance.

Now let’s look neuromuscular response to weight training. In the neuromuscular system nerves from the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system are linked and work together with muscles. Neuromuscular training aim is to improve sensorimotor control and achieve functional stability. So, exercises focus on the quality of movement and work in all three biomechanical planes. It’s widely used in rehabilitation and also athletic training, as its effects on muscle activation and biomechanics.

Benefits for running

Neuromuscular improve running economy (=energy demand for a given velocity of submaximal running) due to greater muscle activity and the initial phase of ground contact. It can also decrease oxygen consumption. Neuromuscular adaptation improves running performance due by running economy and especially due to decreasing the time of the stretch-shortening cycle and increasing muscle stiffness.

what kind of training you can do?

Runners should use the same neuromuscular pathways than they use while running. These are movements that are close to running strides, like knee lift, back kick, etc. All these can be performed with weights. You don’t have to do any complex movement, more like active those muscles which you use while running. Plyometrics training is also an excellent way to increase strength. Plyometrics exercises are often multiple joints movements, that why they are excellent neuromuscular training.


Some runners have won the genetic lottery, and don’t really need work as much to achieve relatively good results. But rest of us, and even those lottery winners have to work hard to get the better runner. We can train our VO2max, vVO2max, lactate threshold, even muscle fibres types changes a little bit if we focus on endurance sports, and other physiological factors. But none of them won’t develop as much as some people, so we can train running technique and that way other factors. Strength training, plyometrics and neuromuscular training not only make a body stronger, but they also make it more capable to run economically.

While running, each step load on your lower limb joints is over 3 times of your body weight. Also, each step you lose some energy to the ground. So, you want efficient running technique, strong muscles and balance. These you can train as far as you want.

PhysioPedia – Neuromuscular exercise Program

Tan, P. (2010). The role of resistance training in distance running. Proceedings of Singapore Healthcare19(3), 183-188.ISO 690

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