This is part four in our injury prevention series for runners. To review, we've introduced our Corrective Exercise Training philosophy, taught you foam rolling exercises, and static stretches that can be incorporated prior to running. Today we introduce activation exercises to help reduce imbalances in the body. These exercises target areas that are often weak in endurance athletes. These weaknesses often lead to overuse injuries.
Floor bridge marching
Lie on your back with your arms at your sides, knees bent, feet hip width apart and toes pointed straight forward.
Push through the feet and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line from the knees to the shoulders. Stabilize and hold this position. Without letting your hips drop toward the floor or rotate, life one foot off the floor only as far as you can control correct posture. Hold for two seconds and then lower your foot back to the floor.
Tubing resisted TKE
Place a band or tubing behind your knee. Position your body so that the resistance is coming from a point straight in front of the working leg. Both feet should be pointed forward, shoulder with apart and staggered so that the working leg is behind the other.
Maintain proper posture and alignment, slowly straighten the knee of the working leg (back leg) against the resistance of the tube by pushing through the ball of the foot and contracting the upper thigh and glute muscles until the leg is fully extended. Hold, and then reverse the movement until the working leg is back in the starting position.
Place a mini band around your ankles and stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointed straight ahead, and the knees slightly bent.
Make sure to keep your feet pointed directly in front of you, take small steps laterally. Do not hike your hips (or lean away from the movement) and don’t let your feet turn outward. Perform the prescribed number of repetitions and then repeat in the opposite direction.
Lie face down with a stability ball under your hips and stomach. Your feet should be hip width apart and pointed directly toward the floor, legs are straight and fully extended. Lift your chest off of the ball, contract the glutes and position the arms straight down in front of your body at shoulder level.
Keep your elbows straight and glutes contracted, lift your arms to your sides and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Focus on pulling your shoulder blades down toward the lower back. Hold the contracted position and then reverse the movement to return your arms to the starting position.
Single Leg Balance and Reach
Balance on one leg, stabilize in the balance position with one foot up in front of the body. Knee and hip are both flexed and 90 degrees and the ankle is dorsiflexed.
Reach the lifted foot back behind your body as far as can be controlled. Squeeze the glute of the lifted foot to extend the hip, don’t allow your body to lean forward. Point your toes and extend your knee. Hold the reach position for two seconds and then reverse the movement to return to the starting position.
Incorporating these movements into your pre-run routine will help restore function and improve range of motion. By activating weak muscles we're able to correct imbalances that exist in the body and ultimately reduce common overuse running injuries. Perform 1-2 sets of 10-20 reps of each movement 3-5 times per week for best results!