What Muscles Does Running Work?

A Complete List of Muscles That Running Works

For a long time, running has been an essential cardiovascular activity done as a form of exercise, or even as a professional passion for many. That’s not even counting the hundreds of thousands of years when mankind ran as a form of survival, hunting technique, and perhaps even as a form of migration. The point is: running is in our DNA. It’s a primal activity. But what do we really know about how it affects the body?

When running, several muscles are used in supporting the body and aiding locomotion. Essentially, the exercise helps to build the endurance, tone, and strength of the muscles.

So which muscles are targeted during running activities?

  1. Hamstrings
    They are the large tendon that is found behind the knee and spans from the hips to the knee. They are made up of the following parts:
    • Semitendinosus
    • Semimembranosus
    • Biceps femoris
    The muscles initiate knee bending as the body moves forward and assist the extension of thighs as the upper leg moves backward. They are exercised when you lift your foot from the ground as your leg moves forward.
  2. Quadriceps
    They are the muscles that are located on the front of the thighs. They run from the hips to the kneecap. Quadriceps consists of four muscles namely;
    •Rectus femoris
    •Vastus medialis
    •Vastus intermedius
    The muscles are used when moving the legs forward. In essence, they help in extending and stabilizing the knees when running. When running, the muscles are worked when your lower legs is straightening up from a bent position.
  3. Calves
    They are the muscles positioned at the back of the lower leg, just below the knees. They are composed of soleus and gastrocnemius. They:
  4. Gluteal muscles
    √ Reduce shock and provide spring when you are taking steps as you run.
    √ Provide movement in the ankle joint.
    √ Extend and flex your feet as you land and push off.
    They are worked on especially when running uphill as your toes point downward. This takes place just before your feet leave the ground while the heels are pointing upwards. 4.Gluteal muscles
    They make up the buttocks and consist of three muscles namely; gluteus minimus, medius, and maxima. They are essential in;
    √ Maintaining your posture straight.
    √ Maintaining the correct alignment of your knee.
    √ Extending and stabilizing the hips.
    The gluteus maxima is the largest of the three muscles. When running, you build the gluteal when moving your thighs from the position perpendicular to the ground towards the back of your body.

5. Hip flexors
They are the muscles located on the front of the hips, above the thighs. They consist of psoas major and iliacus. They perform the following key functions;
√Stabilize the pelvic region.
√Maintain an upright posture.
√Stabilize the hip joint
√Move the legs forward and back while being assisted by the quadriceps and hamstrings.
They get worked on when you lift your thighs towards your stomach. This is notable when you lift your foot from the ground and move it upwards before making another landing.

6. Tibialis anterior
The tibialis anterior is the muscle that spans along your shin way down from your knee to your ankle. It flexes your foot upward and helps to control your foot when lowering back to the ground. You can see them contracting when you lift your toes towards your shins, a motion known as dorsiflexion. When running, the motion occurs when your leg is in front of your body just before landing your foot on the ground.

The act of running works several muscles, including the gluteal, hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves among others. This helps to strengthen the muscles and increase their endurance. You may experience pain when starting to work out the muscles, but the pain subsides as you progress with your running sessions.