Often runners tell me proudly that they’ve been diligently working on their balancing abilities. Which makes sense given the nature of running gait – essentially hopping from weight-bearing one leg to the other.
However, I then often find that they’ve been mainly using wobble cushions, BOSU balls, and other such balance training tools. These unstable surfaces are great for developing ankle stability, which is of course important when rehabbing ankle sprains etc… but are in my opinion not as effective as creating your own instability to then use your whole body (particularly core muscles and those around the hip) to control.
It often amazes me how unstable many otherwise very accomplished athletes are when we put their balance to the test. Putting them on a stable surface while controlling the motion of their centre of mass as their limbs move around on a stable base, much like running, often proves quite a challenge.
The video below demonstrates a simple and effective way for you to work on your dynamic balancing abilities as a runner. Your aim is to maintain your balance and control as you dynamically move your upper body in all planes of motion. Moving your arms around drawing A-to-Z moves your centre of mass around above a balancing foot, knee and hip, asking a lot of your balance, stability and proprioceptive system…
Try it for Yourself:
- Aim for 3 x A-to-Z balancing on each leg
- If that’s too easy, try it with one eye closed, then both!
As additional challenge, for those who find the above A-to-Z drill easy, I like to use “hop and hold” exercises as a progression. The video below demonstrates the most simple variety of this.
Your imagination is the only limiting factor when coming up with variations of these drills. Essentially all we’re trying to do is develop your dynamic stability on one leg – just like running.
From a running form point of view, you can have all the appropriate conscious technique cues in mind when training and racing, but if your body isn’t able to maintain dynamic balance and stability as you move through running gait efficiency will be detrimentally effected.
I get all the athletes I work with, both online through the Running Technique Course (50% Discount – Click Here), or face-to-face to regularly practice exercises and drills such as those above to develop their sense of balance and ability to stabilise on one leg as the body (and thus centre of mass) is moving above.
Not only is this more of a complete body workout, rather than just focusing on ankle stability, but it also proves much more practical than having to look for a wobble board, stability cushion, or BOSU ball every time you want to challenge your balance and proprioception.
If you want a real challenge, try some of these exercises after your next long run… Fatigue is a big game changer!