The seasons are changing and you are itching to run outside again. But, before you resume a running routine, consider this…is your body prepared for the rigors of pounding the pavement or trails?
There is a multitude of muscles used throughout your gait - which can be in the form of walking, jogging/running or sprinting. Though there are many differences between each of these modalities, it’s the amount of force put on your muscles (and ultimately your bones and joints) during those movements that define the difference. No matter which form of activity you are doing, your muscles have to work properly, efficiently and effectively together throughout the movement to assure the best performance and reduce the risk of injury! To achieve this, it’s important to strengthen the muscles that will help improve the quality of movement that correlates directly to performance during any form of gait.
Although a well-rounded and fully integrated program is best, if I had to choose only a few key areas of the body to strengthen for running proficiency they would be:
1) Trunk: These are the muscles that stabilize the mid-section and spine, specifically the transversus abdominis, erector spinae, and internal/external obliques
2) Hip Complex: These muscles help drive the legs, specifically the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius
3) Foot/Ankle: These include the foot stabilizers and the calf muscles
Using the BOSU® Balance Trainer and BOSU® Ballast Ball to target these crucial muscle groups adds an unparalleled, dynamic and highly transferable experience with a variety of options for all fitness levels. Additionally, the Balance Trainer and Ballast Ball promote better total body awareness and can increase neuromotor skills such as balance, coordination, agility and power.
The following three exercises can be executed together as a stand-alone workout OR be integrated into an existing fitness routine. Perform each exercise slowly and with control on both sides for the suggested number of repetitions. Always start with the easiest version of the exercise and progress to the more challenging variations when ready.
Resisted Glute Combo
Repetitions: 6-10 on each leg
Equipment: Balance Trainer and light or medium resistance band above knees
Target Body Parts: Hip Complex + Trunk
Training Goal: Hip and trunk strength, dynamic stabilization
Lie face down with the trunk supported on the dome; toes and elbows on the floor; lift one leg; open laterally; return to center; lower leg
Progression 1: Forearm plank on dome; bent knee plank
Progression 2: Full forearm plank on dome; fully extended plank
Challenge: Flip dome over and perform forearm plank on the platform side
Lunge and Shake
Repetitions: 6-10 repetitions on each leg, alternating sides each repetition
Equipment: Balance Trainer and Ballast Ball
Target Body Parts: Foot/Ankle + Lower Body + Trunk + Upper Body
Training Goal: Dynamic balance, dynamic stabilization of lower body and trunk, inertial power of trunk and shoulder complex, ground reaction force (with forward lunge off dome)
Stand behind the dome, holding the ball; step forward to lunge on dome; “impact shake” the ball diagonally then overhead; step back to starting position
Regression: Practice alternating lunges to dome without ball
Progression 1: Lunge; diagonal impact shake; step to dome and balance; step forward to lunge on floor; impact shake ball overhead; step back to dome and back to starting position
Progression 2: Lunge; diagonal impact shake; step over dome to front lunge; impact shake overhead; step back over dome to starting position
Challenge: Fluid lunges onto and over dome, emphasizing single leg balance on dome
One Leg Squat Sit
Repetitions: 6-10 repetitions on each leg
Equipment: Ballast Ball (perform this exercise with a Ballast Ball only as it will stay in place when standing)
Target Body Parts: Foot/Ankle + Hip Complex
Training Goal: Dynamic balance, strength, and stabilization of lower body
Start seated on the ball; extend one leg, keeping the heel in contact with the floor; slowly stand on one leg, then return to seated
Regression: Place one or both hands on the ball when returning to a seated position from standing
Progression: Lift heel off the floor; stand on one leg; put heel back on the floor, then return to seated
Challenge: Keep one leg off the floor for the entire exercise
Carol Teteak, MS, NASM-PES, ACE-CPT, is a BOSU® & Hedstrom Fitness Trade Show/Booth Manager and a Fitness Coordinator and Personal Trainer at Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness in Woodridge, IL.