Updated: Jul 26, 2019
A house is only as strong as its foundation, and runner is only as strong as their stabilizers.
Though many athletes know the importance of a strong core there are many elements of the body that get neglected. Yes, a strong core is important for stability and efficiency while running. However, many athletes tend to forget about the small stabilizer muscles starting in the feet and working all the way up the kinetic chain. This can lead to an assortment of different problems such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints, Achilles tendinitis, and runner's knee just to name a few. Most injuries are a result of muscle imbalances that are repeatedly put under stress while running. Muscle imbalances often occur when opposing muscles are too tight or weak and can be prevented simply by working on stabilizing muscles.
The workout below is a quick set that can be done almost anywhere and takes only a few minutes to fit into the busy professionals life. It is designed to stabilize the lower leg and hips to create a stronger and more stable foundation. Do this workout twice per week, three sets per session.
TOE CURLS: Stand with feet hip-width apart at the edge of a towel. With the toes of your left foot, gather the towel and slowly pull it toward you. Return to start and repeat with the other foot.
HEEL DROP: Stand on your toes on the edge of a step. Shift your weight to your right leg, take your left foot off the step, and lower your right heel down. Return to start, and then repeat with your left leg.
MONSTER WALKS: With feet shoulder-width apart, place a resistance band around your thighs and step forward and toward the right with your right leg. Bring your left leg up to meet your right, then step out toward the left. Then walk backward in the same way to return to the start. Repeat.
ONE-LEGGED BRIDGES: Lie on your back with your arms out to the sides, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your glutes to lift your hips up off the floor. Extend your left leg out and hold for 30 seconds (work up to 60-second holds), then lower it. Repeat with your other leg.
For some athletes, especially those prone to foot, lower-leg, and knee injuries, a dedicated stabilizer strengthening regimen like this may be extremely beneficial for long term healthy running.