The skill of running is an extremely complex movement. Despite this, couch potatoes everywhere decide that’s how they’re going to start getting back in shape. It’s not a great decision if done improperly. There are basic strength and coordination baselines you need in order to run safely.
Strong Single Leg Posture Is What You Need
If you have poor single leg stability, you’re not ready to run. You’re actually not really even ready to walk. But the risk of running when you have poor single leg stability is quite a bit higher than walking.
So before you don those shiny new running shoes and start planning your first 5K race a month from now, back up a second and lay the proper foundation for your running conquest.
Start With The Basics Before You Start Running
Hip strength and stability are essential if you want to be an effective, efficient runner. In case you think you don’t care, trust me you should. If you aren’t effective and efficient you will be abusing your feet, ankles, knees, and lower back for thousands of repetitions every run.
If you can do these exercises barefoot, you’ll get the most benefit that way. But if you’re not ready for barefoot try to wear as little shoe as possible. We’re starting as simple as we can. Just shift your center of gravity over one foot and pick up the other one. How stable are you? Are you leaning or did you properly shift your center of gravity to the side?
If you can hold that position for more than a few seconds without wobbling all over the place you’re ready to practice some leg swings. Just start slow and controlled and swing your raised leg out in front of you and then back behind you. Try to minimize the amount of spine movement you use. Focus on using just your hip.
Next, let’s practice your lateral stability. Raise your free leg out to the side. I don’t know which side! Just kidding. Start with the same side as the raised leg. This will be less complex than the opposite side. But guess what you’re doing next!? That’s right! You’re doing the more challenging side.
Throughout these exercises try and keep your shoulders and your hips square. If you find that you’re twisting one way or the other congratulations! You just highlighted a weakness you need to work on. Maintain your attention and do your best to correct the twist.
The last exercise we’re going to do will be single leg squats. No, no you don’t have to do full pistol squats, but you do need enough leg strength to cushion your landings as you’re running. Focus on squatting down about a quarter of the way to the ground to make sure you have the strength to maintain controlled footfalls through your runs. And just as in the previous exercises monitor for rotation throughout your body.
Strong Hips Are Stable Hips
If you neglect this base level development and just go running it’s possible appropriate strength will develop as you run. But it is far more likely that you’ll end up injured instead. Give yourself some time to strengthen the muscles that support your joints before you increase the demand on them. It will go a long way toward ensuring a long-running career instead of a short jog to the doctor.
If you want more these stretches to do before walking are also beneficial for runners.