A client of mine who has taken up running asked me recently about what exercises he could do to stay fit and avoid injury on his road to fitness. This proactive approach to health and fitness is smart and one I encourage with anyone I meet, be it professionally or outside of my massage therapy practice. With running in particular, we’ve all heard the naysayers rant:
“Running is bad for you.”
“I used to be a runner but then I got hurt. You shouldn’t run.”
For as much as runners are an incredibly positive and supportive group, I find sadly that many times it is the injured/retired former runner who can be very negative toward our sport.
So how do we stay fit as runners? We cross train. Runners have fantastically developed muscles but also some woefully neglected muscles. It is these muscle imbalances, if not corrected, that can jeopardize us. Remember in running we are continually propelling our bodies forward and landing full force on one leg before propelling forward all over again from this stance leg. Without proper balance — between muscle groups, as well as the balance when landing on and propelling from the stance leg — there’s a greater likelihood of instability and injury.
Here’s one exercise I like to do that improves my balance — both types — by working on the stabilization muscles in the outer gluteal area.
Stand on one leg and carry a weight in the opposite hand. Bend over at the waist to a 90 degree angle keeping your free leg straight behind you. Slowly pull the weight into your chest by bending at the elbow and drawing your elbow upward. Then gradually lower the weight back down by lowering and straightening your elbow. Repeat 10x’s on each side.
Good luck, Have Fun & Stay Fit!