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The “Perfect 9” Runner’s Exercises

Stephanie Howe

We love running.

It’s the perfect body movement and exercise, and we believe it’s good for the body, mind and soul. Although we’re designed for running and capable of achieving incredible feats of speed, power and endurance, for many of us the day-to-day rigors of life spent in chairs, cars and in front of computers has weakened us to the point where smart preparation is necessary to get the most out of a running program to avoid injuries.

Building a better running-specific training program

As we cover the perfect runner’s program, I’ll address the dynamic muscle slings involved in that exercise, what it’s good for, and what to pay close attention to and not miss. We’ll work from the ground up too. You’ll notice very little if any descriptions are included. Use the pictures for reference and come talk to us for more details or clarifications.

Thank you to Mario Mendoza and Ryan Bak for demonstrating the exercises, and DON’T train through pain if something doesn’t feel right. If you need additional help, come and talk to us.

Note: You may wonder as you read through these ‘why is this a beginner’s program? I’m an experienced runner, and these seem pretty awesome’. It’s true – these exercises are good for ALL runners at any level. They are especially important for beginning runners though because these are the runners who are most likely to quit if they are injured, not you hardcore types. Runners of all levels – enjoy!

The Exercises:

1. Ankle Flexibility and Strength: Gastrocnemius & Soleus Stretches, and Single Leg Heel Raises

Soleus Stretch Calf Stretch

Joints, muscles and slings used:

Posterior sling, ankle flexibility, Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles

Good for:

Antigravity Strength AND Power

Watch out for:

The muscle needs to be powerful, but it’s not the MOST powerful forward mover of your body – that would be your glutes and hamstrings, so don’t overuse those calves. Also, don’t neglect to strengthen and mobilize your feet too!

2. Hip Strength and Control: Double Extensions into a Forward and Backward Lunge

Double Extension1 Forward Lunge

Joints, muscles and slings used:

Posterior and Anterior Oblique Slings, and the Deep Posterior Column/Longitudinal System – All of them!

Good for:

Covering a lot of important stabilizers and movers in one multi-step exercise; especially good for hip stability since you are moving through a wide arc of balance positions.

Watch out for:

No sloppy movements, and engage your gluts and quads when you raise your opposite knee above hip height to fully engage – this also trains the relaxed knee needed for a strong ‘knee drive’ when accelerating. Use a mirror or spotter at first.

3. Hip Strength: Ball Bridges

Double Leg Ball Bridge Single Leg Ball Bridge

Joints, muscles and slings used:

Posterior Oblique and Deep Posterior Column/Longitudinal System

Good for:

More hip control and stability, and the start of power, especially at the more advanced levels and with quickness

Watch out for:

This is a common one where your strong muscles will try to cover for your weak muscles – avoid arching your back, keep your abdominal core strong and really get those hip extensors (hamstrings and glutes) working for you.

4. Hip Strength: Kneeling BOSU Hip Stability

Kneeling BOSU Stability Kneeling BOSU Stability Variation

Joints, muscles and slings used:

All of em! Especially Posterior Oblique and Deep Posterior Column/Longitudinal System

Good for:

Getting your pelvis properly aligned and supported by a strong lumbopelvic core. Add challenge by doing arm movements with/without weights – swings, overhead raises etc. will challenge your stability even more.

Watch out for:

Again, your pelvic alignment has to be spot on to avoid using compensatory muscles and movements.

5. Hip & Core Strength: Ball Pikeups

Ball Pikeups Ball Pikeups2

Joints, muscles and slings used:

Anterior Oblique Sling and Inner Core Unit

Good for:

Postural strength and stability. Progress to single leg versions if you’re a studmuffin.

Watch out for:

Compensations through your trunk and instability – distribute the movement through your core so your trunk is flexing smoothly and uniformly, and proportionally to your hips. An easier version can be done by rolling up onto your bent knees rather than your feet.

6. Core Strength: Foam Roller Single Leg Curlups

exercise3aopt exercise3bopt

Joints, muscles and slings used:

Anterior Oblique Sling and Inner Abdominal Unit

Good for:

Balance and core baby!

Watch out for:

Using speed or momentum rather than control – not cool! Take your time and move your body precisely through the motion.

7. Mobility 1: Hip Swings

Hip Strength Hip Strength Lateral Hip Swing Lateral Hip Swing Finish

Joints, muscles and slings used:

Mobilize the hip joints, open the Anterior and Posterior Oblique Slings

Good for:

Dynamic Warmups and general hip and pelvic tightness

Watch out for:

Other people! Get those legs moving – be careful not to stretch aggressively with these – swing freely and don’t bang into the end of your motion.

8. Flexibility: Forward and Backward Trunk Stretches

Trunk Rotation Stretch Backward Trunk Stretch

Joints, muscles and slings used:

Deep Column, Posterior and Anterior Oblique and Inner Unit – all of them!

Good for:

Mobility, Jujitsu, Twister

Watch out for:

Overdoing it! Don’t be a hero. Take your time and allow your body to adjust.

9. Flexibility: HIp Openers – Mountain Climber and Rotators

Running stretch: Mountain Climber Dynamic Piriformis Stretch

Joints, muscles and slings used:

Posterior and Anterior Obliques

Good for:

Lengthen it before you Strengthen it!

Watch out for:

Rushing it – take your time but try to flow smoothly from one side to the other.

I hope you find these exercises helpful, and don’t hesitate to contact us for one-on-one help if you find yourself in a jam and you need guidance.

Happy Running!

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Burke Selbst PT OCS gcfp

Lover of all things movement. Inspired by success stories great and small and coming back stronger.

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