I spent the majority of 2015 in physical therapy from my partially torn FHL tendon and Posterior Tib Tendonitis. A huge part of my rehab was doing single leg exercises that focused on building up my ankle stability and balance. With a big toe that couldn’t even curl, it made even the little things, like balancing on one foot, difficult.
Balance exercises are huge for runners. If you think about it, running is essentially hopping on one leg over and over again. But it’s a little more graceful…hopefully. To build on your balance, you need to start from the ground up. The foot and ankle are your foundation. When you have a strong ankle you are less likely to be injured and much more likely to keep your balance under uneven surfaces. Your ankle never relaxes in running. It’s constantly working so you need it to be in tip top shape.
One of the orthopedic doctor’s that I saw last summer recommended I try Hoka’s. He’s a serious runner so I thought why not? At that point I would have done anything to run again. So I bought a pair and they have been in my running shoe rotation along with my Saucony Guide’s and Triumphs. I will admit, I do like the cushioning. It’s funny, that even with all the cushioning, I still feel like I can feel the ground below me better than with other shoes. I know exactly if I’m heel or mid foot striking.
Last week, Amanda wrote a fantastic article for Competitor. But after reading Amanda’s article, I know that I can’t slack off on my balance training. It is one tool in my tool belt to running strong and injury free. Here are four balance exercises for runners that I are in my weekly rotation.
Toe Stand with Arms Overhead
This exercise is super basic but really makes me think about using my toes to help stabilize my balance. All you need to do is stand with your feet hip width apart and rise up onto your tip toes. Once there, raise your hands up overhead. Hold this posture for as long as you can without moving your feet to steady yourself. I try for 5-10 slow breaths. If you want to make it harder, close your eyes.
Single Leg Balance on BOSU
The BOSU is great for building balance. If you don’t have a BOSU, any unstable surface will work. A pillow or couch cushion works great. To do: Stand on the center of the BOSU and raise the other leg off the ground. Be sure to not let your hip sink – they should be even. Hold for 30 – 60 seconds.
Single Leg Dead Lift with Med Ball
This exercise makes me WORK. I have no problems with a regular dead lift but doing it single leg with a med ball takes concentration and so much balance. To do: Stand holding a med ball. Begin to lean forward with your upper body as your left leg lifts out behind you. Slowly lower the med ball and touch it to the ground. Return to starting position. Repeat 12-15 times before switching legs.
Single Leg Squat and Reach
If you are looking for an exercise that works your balance and fires up the hip and glutes, look no further. My PT had me to do this exercise with small cones to my left and right sides and one to the front. To do: Stand on one leg. Squat down and touch the floor (or cone if using) to your left side. Repeat the squat/touch sequence to the front and right side. Return to the left side repeating squat/touch. Traditionally, the opposite hand from the leg that is squatting down is used to touch the ground. However, my PT had me do it both ways. I think the same hand, same leg is much harder especially when you have to cross over. If this becomes to easy, you can progress to an unstable surface like a BOSU or foam pad.
Note: I like to do all of these exercise without shoes to really make my feet work. With shoes, it’s way to easy to get “comfy” and not have my whole foot/ankle doing the work.
Switching gears from workout to workout clothing.
Last month, I had the opportunity to combine three of my favorite things – yoga, prAna and an Instagram Challenge. How could I pass that up? I am loving my new prAna Prism Capri’s. It’s my third pair and I honestly want to buy every single color. Hands down the best capri for yoga, strength training and hanging out.
I’ve been a huge fan of prAna for a few years. I not only love the form and function of their clothing, but also how well made it is and with thought. They source their clothes from sustainably conscious material and energy sources and make sure that working conditions are good for all of their employees.
The cool thing with prAna gear is that you can breathe easier when you wear it. They have been using bluesign® systems since 2012 to make sure that the manufacturing of their products don’t contribute to air and water pollution. There is no use of harsh chemicals so their fabrics meet environmental and human safety standards.
You can check out all of prAna’s spring gear and get 15% off your total order when you enter code PSSS16HFM at checkout.
Linking up with Wild Workout Wednesday for sweat inspiration!
Do you incorporate balance exercises into your training?
Do you own the same piece of workout gear in multiple colors because you love it so much?