Runners cannot afford to ignore strength work on our hips, glutes, legs and feet! See how to perform our April lower body exercises below.
Deadlift: This exercise will engage, activate, stabilize and strengthen the muscles behind you, from your foot all the way up to your upper back and forearms.
Single Leg Balance/Single Leg Deadlift: This exercise is designed to strengthen your glutes, shape your booty, and helps with balance as well. Adding weights to this exercise might help you maintain balance but isn’t necessary. Up to you and your fitness level.
Ball Toss: New Exercise – This one should be fun…and challenging!
WHY: To learn rapid control of the muscles inside the foot.
HOW: You’ll need a ball, (any kind) a partner or a wall. Standing on one foot, throw the ball back and forth to your partner or against the wall, reaching for the ball and catching it while balancing on one foot. Toss to partner or wall 10 times for each leg, alternating the throwing angle and velocity while switching legs occasionally throughout the drill.
CHALLENGE YOURSELF: Alternate throwing the ball with one hand and catching it with the other. Catching with your less favorable hand will require more concentration, both to stretch for the ball and to maintain your balance as you stretch.
Toe Yoga: A lack of stability in the foot eventually becomes the kiss of death for lots of runners and injury and inefficiency is the result. When the foot strikes the ground and the arch collapses excessively inward we call this over-pronation.
While many people think they need a shoe to provide support, you actually have muscles for that. It’s kind of like lifting with a weight belt. You don’t generally need a belt! A strong core means you actually have a strong weight belt built right into your body. Same thing with feet. We have all the support we need; we just need to coordinate and condition those muscles.
Before you condition the muscles of your foot, we have to simply make sure you can consciously control the muscles. You may be surprised, but you may totally lack control over the little muscle that pulls your big toe upward or the muscle that depresses the big toe into the floor.
Practice engaging the big toe without rolling the foot inward or outward.
See if you can lift ONLY the big toe and keep the other four toes down.
Then really press the big toe solidly into the floor while lifting the other four toes.
What happens to your arch when you do this? That’s right, you DO have an arch! And you thought you had “flat feet”…
WHY: To differentiate, coordinate and activate foot muscles.
Good video below to show us how to do this one. She says 30 times…but we are doing sets of ten. You can do this with your daily exercises or you can do it several times throughout the day when you’re working or just sitting around watching TV. This is a great move to incorporate into your daily routine even when it’s not on our “schedule”.