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Five Great Cross-Training Exercises

This is a post by Dr. Dustin Lee PT, DPT

Overuse injuries are common among runners and endurance athletes. The repetitive nature of running, cycling and swimming serves as a primary contributing factor to an overuse injury. A variety of factors play into an overuse injury – diet, proper training program, rest – to name a few; however, we will be discussing the importance of cross-training. Implementing cross-training and changing

bad habits while training can help you actively recover from an injury, but doing so can also help you reach that new personal record or accomplish your goal of completing that race of your dreams.

Cross-training quite simply means exercising and moving in an atypical pattern with an intensity that is similar to your normal exercise routine. For instance, runners and cyclists (and occasionally the swimmer only performing freestyle stroke) are guilty of movement primarily in the sagittal plane. Forward-backward motion is what you should be thinking of at this point. Repetitive training in this plane tends to adaptively strengthen and enhance the performance of your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteus maximus, back extensors and hip flexors, to name a few. Without proper cross-training or exercise intensity, the frontal (side-to-side motion) and transverse (rotational motion) planes stabilizing muscles typically become weakened. The lack of balance of the musculoskeletal (muscles and bones) and repetitive motion in one direction can stress the body, leading to a potential overuse injury.

Here are five ways you can begin implementing cross-training into your regular exercise routine:

1. Shuffle forward/backward (10x): 1 step out, 2 steps in, 1 step out in zig-zag pattern

2. Scissors (5x each direction): Hop sideways with one foot out and one foot in

3. Forward step over (10x): 1 step in with body turn, 2 steps out with turn back toward ladder in zig-zag pattern

4. T-drill (8x at 80% effort): Set up cones in a “T” shape (10 yards apart for vertical arm, 10 yards apart for horizontal arm). As quick as you can, run forward, shuffle left to the left-most cone, shuffle right to the right-most cone, shuffle left to the center cone and then back pedal to start.

5. Box drill (8x at 80% effort): Set up cones in a square shape (10 yards apart for each cone). As quick as you can, run forward, shuffle left/right, back pedal and then shuffle right/left back to the start cone.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and let us know if you have any questions. 


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