Running is a very dynamic sport that involves several different joints to function in correct alignment to absorb and react to impact efficiently. A routine that strengthens to prevent injury, creates length, reinforces proper movement patterns, and treats or prevents inflammation can help you become a stronger and safer runner.
Mobility warm ups:
A general warm up might be too limited to maintain proper strength, flexibility, and stabilizer activation. Here are a few extra movements for optimal joint function.
- Using a combo balance board for ankle circles, lateral and medial motion, and forward and back wobble motion. If you do not have a balance board, you can do multidirectional toe taps, ABC’s, or ankle circles.
- Move from a hurdler’s stretch position to a track start position with the toes up to warm up and lengthen the front and back of the hips. An alternative is forward and back leg swings.
- Folding forward touch down to an elevated surface like a step, or grab under the toes and transition from the forward fold to a deep squat with knees out and the heels up while using the arms to stretch the inner thighs and groin area. An alternative is a lateral leg swing, pendulum motion. Make sure that you are warmed up properly for this kind of motion.
- Figure 8’s or circles can be done in a controlled movement or in a ballistic leg swing. Make sure to maintain a neutral spine and tight core for safety.
- Move from a flexed spine into extension on the floor, or use a resistance band or stability ball for added traction.
- Lateral bends reaching up and over done in a controlled movement lengthen major muscles, such as: lats, quadratus lumborum, and the psoas.
- Lateral twists can be done in a ballistic motion from the arms or lying down with the legs as windshield wipers.
When it comes to an exercise routine make sure you have these simple, yet important basics in your repertoire.
- A leg strengthener that is general and highly effective for spinal integrity, core strength and proper length/ tension relationships of the body is a barbell squat. This can be done with light weight body bars and can progress from there.
- An upper body strengthener that utilizes core and shoulder stabilizers is a pushup. You can do a ball pushup using the stability ball under the hands for added activation and increased difficulty.
- Chin-ups or pull-ups counter-effect shoulder elevation that is common in runners and again integrate a lot of core and stabilization.
- An overhead shoulder press is good not only for shoulder stability, but range of motion and health of the shoulder joint. If you are doing this correctly with complete range, you should be able to extend the elbows straight with the weights held directly above you without extension at the lower back or shoulder elevation.
- Core or spinal stabilizers have the greatest importance for endurance athletes. A plank or leg lifts for added psoas activation are great choices for runners.
Strength and mobility aspects of fitness are important to maintain as a runner to complement your running program. In addition, proper flexibility and massage will keep the body healthy and will aid in recovery. If you have additional questions, or would like more advanced options please contact personal fitness trainer Amber Walz.