Balance Training for Runners
Balance Exercises for Runners
Running is standing on one leg at speed, so balance is a key skill to develop to improve your running!
For all these exercises start with 8-10 reps and build to 12-15 reps, rest for 30 seconds and repeat twice more. So you do three sets of each exercise. For those where you hold the movement start at 30 seconds and build from there.
Focus on good form, if you are unable to keep to the form cues then stop. Do the exercises slowly and with control, this is more effective than a fast approach and will mean you are more likely to be doing them right!
If you can it’s useful to have a mirror nearby so you can check your form for the exercises.
For two of these exercises I use a bosu ball a great substitute for this is a sofa cushion. Take a thick seat of back cushion off your sofa (or use a deep pillow) to add more balance challenge to your squats and lunges!
Standing on one leg and variations
The simplest and best way to start your balance work is to stand on one leg - often!
Build up to 30 seconds standing (wobble free!) on each leg, you can work this into you day to practice regularly. When making tea, when brushing your teeth, standing in a queue etc
Once you’ve mastered that try spelling your name with your opposite foot in large letters in the air, that will shift your centre of gravity around making balancing more difficult
The next progression from there it to stand on one leg with your eyes closed! When you do this you are relying even more on your proprioception, your bodies awareness of where it is in space, which is a great skill to develop!
One leg knee bends
Starting standing next to a wall/solid surface with your hand on the wall for balance lift the leg closest to the wall off the floor and do small knee bends with the other leg.
Bend the knee until you can’t see your toes any more and go back up slowly and with control
Keep the knee pointing forwards at all times!
When you’ve mastered this try without the hand on the wall for balance, ideally in front of a mirror as doing this whilst keeping your knees pointing forwards at all times will be more of a challenge!
Lunges with instability
With your front foot on a sofa cushion laid on the floor (or a bosu ball if you have one) try some lunges.
Work really hard to keep the front knee pointing forwards!
Lunge form recap;
Take a long step forwards, making sure your feet remain hip width apart (not stepping closer to your centre line so you are wobbling on a tightrope!).
Drop your body downwards by bending both knees until you reach a 90 degree bend in both knees. The back knee should just be hovering off the floor.
Check you’ve stepped long enough; your front knee shouldn’t have moved forwards of your toes
Push off with the front foot to step back to your start position and step forwards with the other side
The keys are to keep feet hip width apart and to keep the front knee pointing forwards - no wobbling in and out!
Squats with instability
With both feet on your sofa cushion or bosu ball, squat slowly and not too deep to start with!
Squat form recap;
Start with feet slightly wider than hip width apart
Begin the movement by driving your bum backwards and downwards, ideally until it reaches level with your knees. Imagine you are trying to hover over a dirty loo you don’t want to sit on!
Slowly lift back up again
The knees should track in line with your toes and should not drive forwards of your toes as you drop down.
Rest a hand on a wall or stable surface for stability, lift one leg off the floor.
With the other leg lift your heel off the floor and full extend your ankle to straight; going up on your toes.
Slowly lower back down and repeat.
You can see a video of this set of exercises here; https://youtu.be/rJVxgumiTk0