Runners are a hard-working, highly committed breed of athlete. Despite putting in hours of training out on the roads, I find that many runners come into the clinic with surprisingly weak hip musculature, a poor ability to control rotational forces under demand, and tightness that impacts postural alignment. The exercises and stretches below are specifically designed to enhance your running routine in order to counter repetitive training in a sagittal plane.
- Band walking: Tie a stretchy band/theraband snugly around your knees. Sidestep 10 steps to the right and then 10 to the left. Repeat 3-4 times total, or until you feel a burn in your side hip muscles.
*Make it more challenging: Move the band down and tie it tight around your ankles for increased resistance
- Side Planks: Lay on your side, forearm positioned underneath your shoulder. Tighten your abdominal muscles, push through forearm, and lift your hips and lower legs off the floor, keeping body in a straight line. Hold for 20 seconds. Relax and repeat 3-4 times on each side.
*Make it easier: bend your legs at the knees and lift hips to perform a “modified plank”.
*Make it more challenging: Perform full plank and lift top leg off lower leg while keeping it straight. Repeat 10 leg raises on each side.
- Bridging: Lay on your back with knees bent and arms clasped over your chest pointing up toward the ceiling. Lift your buttocks off the ground while keeping your feet flat on floor. Hold 3 seconds and relax your buttocks back to floor. Repeat 30 times.
*Make it more challenging: While in bridge position, lift one foot off floor, place back down, lift the other foot, place down (as if you are marching) and then lower buttocks. Do not allow your pelvis to drop when you lift your foot. Repeat 10 times with each leg.
- Backwards Lunge: Stand with feet hip width apart. Step backwards with one leg and allow front knee to bend into lunge position. Return back leg to starting position. Repeat 2-3 sets of 10 for each leg.
*Make it more challenging: Hold dumbbells in your hands for increased weight and press overhead during the lunge for even more of a challenge.
- Single Leg “Deadlift”: Place an object on the ground in front of you as a target to reach toward. Stand on your right foot. Reach with your right hand down to the target in front of you as you allow your right knee to bend as if you are doing a single leg squat. Watch that your knee tracks straight over your 2nd toe-- do not allow it to “dive” in or out as you bend it. Return to upright and standing on two feet. Perform 2-3 sets of 10 on each leg.
*Make it easier: If you can not complete while maintaining good alignment at your knee, allow your left leg to kick out behind you and tap the floor for increased stability.
- Calf Stretch: Stand facing a wall, in a lunge position. Keep the heel of your back leg on the ground as you allow your front knee to bend. You should feel a stretch on the back of your back leg in the calf muscle. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat 3-4 times on each leg.
- Hip flexor Stretch: Kneel on the ground with one knee on a pillow and the other leg up in front. Shift weight forward onto front foot and keep your body up tall, you should feel stretch on the front of your thigh. Hold 30 seconds and repeat 3-4 times on each leg.
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