Today’s post is the next piece of the running pie after discussing why strength training is crucial to a runner’s routine. What is stabilization training, you ask? The glue and duct tape to maintain good posture and use energy efficiently while we run.
Why Stabilization Training Is Important for Runners
If you are unstable while running, you ask your muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, etc., to do a lot more work than they are designed to do, and eventually, they are going to be exhausted and quit (i.e., injured and pain). I’ve seen runners who run ultra-marathons but can’t stand on one foot for 30 seconds! Seems strange, right? These folks tend to be chronically injured during their training or don’t see significant improvements in performance because they aren’t as efficient as they could be.
Stabilization training is basically the ability to control your body movements and use the correct tissues correctly. Balance is a great way to start working on stability; you don’t need any equipment at first. I recommend everyone start with being able to balance on one leg for at least a minute, then progress from there. Examples of how to progress are:
- Close your eyes
- Stand on a pillow, cushion, BOSU ball, etc. (anything that is a little wobbly yet safe to stand on, of course)
- Throw a medicine ball against the wall or to a partner (obviously not with your eyes closed)
- Perform upper body exercises while balancing on one foot
- Try to rotate side to side while balancing on one foot
This is a partial list of progressions, and often, you can be creative when increasing the difficulty of balance. Plyometric drills are another great way to work on stability, especially because they are dynamic movements, which is what running is: a dynamic activity. Plyometrics are jumping-type movements such as line jumps, box jumps, skips, etc.
When first starting, I always recommend going slowly to learn the movement correctly and then increasing speed once you get good at the movement. I love and HIGHLY RECOMMEND purchasing Jay Dicharry’s book, Anatomy for Runners, not only to learn more variations of stabilization training but also why stability is so crucial to a healthy and long-running career.
Incorporating stability training into your routine 1-2 times a week will improve your movement and efficiency and possibly reduce the occurrence of injury, especially with running. The other nice thing about incorporating stability training into your routine is that it doesn’t take long to see improvements because it’s a neuromuscular re-education exercise (meaning you’re making your body smarter by re-wiring the way you move). Improvements usually are seen within a few weeks or less. Then, it’s a matter of continuing to work on stability and balance so you maintain those improvements and can use them when running.
As I mentioned, with strength training, runners must do more than just run to stay injury-free and improve their performance. So start with these balance exercises; you’ll never need glue or duct tape again!
“Train your brain to train your body.”
1. Jay Dicharry-Anatomy of Runners: Unlocking Your Athletic Potential for Health, Speed and Injury Prevention.