Trail Running Exercises

Neil Hopkins Biokineticist Trail Running Exercises

Trail running in Cape Town:

Cape Town has some of the most magnificent trail running routes, and trail runners in Cape Town are spoiled for choice. From Table Mountain and Tokai (Silvermine), to Somerset West, Franschoek, Paarl and Stellenbosch and further afield towards the Cederberg and Matroosberg regions. There are trails for all levels of ability (technical single track for advanced runners and jeep track for beginners) which is why the sport has boomed over the last few years. There is also healthy trail running competition with numerous trail running races on the calendar (check out or

Trail running and your body:

Anecdotally trail running is often seen as kinder on your body when it comes to overuse injuries. It is believed that there is a greater risk of overuse injury (eg: Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome) with road running and more acute injury (eg: Lateral Ankle Sprain) risk with trail running. However, not all trail runners sustain injuries and if they do they are not always acute injuries. A discussion on the detail surrounding the types of injuries and the mechanisms involved are not part of the scope of this post, but if you would like more information here are a few journal papers of interest:

Many trail runners actually present with overuse injuries as a result of overload. Overload has many guises: too much too soon, too far too soon, too fast too soon, too steep too soon, etc. The concept of “too much” can be manged with better planning, better conditioning and a bit of patience. It is seen as the “Goldilocks principle” you need to find balance (from the story of Goldilocks – not too hot, not too cold, it is just right) . As a trail runner you need to find the amount of volume and intensity that is “just right”. This is done through correct training and the proper planning of your training calendar.

Neil Hopkins Trail Running Biokinetics

Cross training for trail running:

Adding in some cross training in the gym, or at home, can compliment your trail running. Cross training is not meant to be a substitute for running but rather as a means of cross conditioning and balancing your body.  As a trail runner you can join a local gym to take advantage of the cardio and strength training equipment, as well as the pool for  your recovery days. The reality is that not many trail runners enjoy the confines of a gym but the reward can be worth it. From stronger legs for the hills, a more resilient back and knees for the downhills, and enhanced cardio for the endurance.

From a home routine perspective there can be some simple exercises that you can add to your trail running tool kit. These can easily be done at home as part of a daily routine. These five essential exercises can help improve your trail running and keep you more “balanced” as a trail runner:

  1. Quad stretch
  2. Adductor stretch
  3. Hamstring strength
  4. Single leg “dead lift”
  5. Ankle stability

Click on an image for a description of the exercise.


If you would like to download a copy of these exercises as a PDF please click here: Trail Running Exercises

Biokinetics sports conditioning and injury management for trail running:

The exercises above are pretty generic and are not designed to make you invincible. They are a value-add to compliment your trail running programme. If you have an injury, or if you feel that you need a more comprehensive programme and a face-to-face consultation then you should reach out and make an appointment with a professional in your area. You can make an appointment with a physiotherapist or biokineticist in your area to discuss your injury concerns.

If you would like to make a booking or if you want to find out more information on biokinetics please feel free to complete the information below:


Neil Hopkins Biokineticist Cape Town Trail Running Exercises

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