Running downhill with your dog

running downhill
running downhill

Running Downhill with your dog.

Running downhill is not as easy as you think on your body and if you have dog attached it makes it more interesting!

I don’t know about you but focusing on the top of a hill knowing it’s going to easier to run down, well on your cardiovascular system anyway.

Always helps me get to the top.

But running downhill isn’t as easy as you think as the leg muscles running downhill take a pounding.

What’s happening to our muscles when we run downhill.

Running downhill puts more stresses and load on our muscles compared to running on flat terrain or uphill.

As we run downhill, our muscles experience greater eccentric contractions, which occur when the muscle is lengthens under tension.

Specifically, the quadriceps, which are the muscles at the front of our thighs, experience more stress when running downhill.

These muscles are responsible for controlling our knee extension, which is essential for absorbing the impact of each step.

The eccentric contractions that occur during downhill running cause these muscles to lengthen while under tension.

As well as the quadriceps, the hamstrings, which are the muscles at the back of our thighs, also play a significant role in downhill running.

These muscles work to slow down the leg during each stride, and the eccentric contractions they experience can also lead to muscle damage and soreness.

Running technique as we run downhill.

Go for it!

Seriously the aim for running downhill is –

• Lean forward from the ankle.
• Don’t lean back.
• Shorten your stride and increase cadence.
• Control landing so you have some flexion in your knee.

All sounds easy, until you attach you dog then things change.

How we do it Canicross style.

running downhill with your dog
We should be looking at doing the above, but if you have a strong pulling dog then you have to make choices.

If we aren’t fit enough then we tend to over shorten our stride and lean back, which in turn puts more strain on our bodies and load through are legs.

A lot will depend on steepness of hill and how good your dog is with commands.

Ideally if we are racing, we just want to go full pelt downhill, we need to put our big girl pants on but also have ensured that we have done enough strength training so our legs can take the load.

Canicrossers often teach the command “behind” or “side” to ensure the dog comes behind us, this means we can go quicker without the worry of the pull of the dog.

To find out more about teaching your dog the behind command check out my blog “How to teach Canicross Commands”

What we can do to help ourselves when Canicrossing downhill.

Pilates for runners

We mentioned that we need to add strength training to our training.

Pilates for Runners is a great way to get started.

Pelvis and hip stability are essential for runners to reduce the risk of injury.

Pilates exercises to Strengthen your core.

Shoulder Bridge

The Shoulder Bridge is a great exercise for runners,
• strengthens the core,
• improves pelvic stability.
• Strength’s glutes
• Strengthens hamstrings.
• Mobilises the spine.

Click on the photo below to watch how to do the Shoulder Bridge.


The Plank

The Plank is great all over body strengthening your body for running downhill.  In particular the core to help with pelvis stability.  

Click on the photo below to find out how to do the Plank.

running downhill

Standing Pilates for Runners


pilates for runners squat

Try these Squats – leaning forward from the ankles, taking the weight more in the front of the foot makes it more running specific.

By adding these exercises to your training is a start to help you get stronger and protect your body as you Canicross downhill.

Know you need to get stronger to Canicross downhill.

Then the Get Stronger: Run a faster 5K Course is a great way to join fellow Canicrossers to keep you accountable and motivated.

NEW Course starting 15th of May for 11-weeks. Find out more about the course in this blog “Everything you need to know about the Get Stronger: Run a faster 5K Course”