5 Key Exercises to Improve a Runner’s Postural Awareness

A runner’s ability to maintain a relaxed posture and fluid running form requires a complex interaction of mileage, intensity, postural awareness, strength, stability, and mobility. Devoting time to training each of these components can be a catalyst to improving running economy, reducing injury risk, and increasing speed.

The Fundamental 5

The series of running-specific motions outlined below aims to challenge balance and control. The five exercises focus on building a runner’s postural awareness. Successful runners train this ability to maintain great body shape/postural alignment and control, through all the phases of a running cycle and even when they are fatigued.

Shown in the video below are the most basic exercise forms for the fundamental 5. Once mastered, volume can be added, then load, and finally greater complexity and speed. This is an adjunct, not a substitute, to regular training, dynamic warm-ups, lifting and mobility programs. Make sure patients pay close attention to form as quality is critical to success.

    1. Runner’s March

      Begin with tall posture, drive knees up high, tighten the glut on the stance leg, and keep chest up and forward. Hold for 2 seconds and then return the leg to the start position slowly. See a Video Demonstration

    2. Runner’s Touch

      Start with the march posture, reach down and forward until a light hamstring stretch is felt. Keep the back flat and abs lightly drawn in while holding the stance leg almost fully straight at the knee. See a Video Demonstration

    3. Runner’s Climb

      Start again with the march posture and then lean forward placing a foot on a regular-sized step or block. In one smooth motion, step up by engaging glutes, staying tall and driving a leg up as high as possible. Hold for 2 seconds and lower back down to the start position slowly. See a Video Demonstration

    4. Swinging Kick and Flicks

      Swing the free leg up until there’s a light hamstring stretch, keep the spine tall, and the arms swing opposite mimicking running sequence. Let the leg flick up behind as the thigh sweeps back while keeping the stance leg steady. See a Video Demonstration

    5. Runner’s Lunge

      Start with the march posture, fall slowly down into a lunge, then drive up to the march posture in one clean fluid knee drive. See a Video Demonstration

Start with 5 repetitions of each motion and keep repeating the cycle for a total of 8-10 minutes. After two weeks, if your patient feels dialed in, then increase their duration from 10 to 15 minutes for the remaining two weeks. Try to make it a one month challenge.

Changes and Adaption

Most patients see clear changes in form and efficiency after one month on this program. If it’s really hard at first, try reducing repetitions or instructing patients to use a stick to assist in balance. Remember to remind patients that if anything is painful, poorly controlled or just plain doesn’t feel right, back off and request modification.

Matt Walsh’s three part MedBridge course series covers all aspects of the running athlete, from Biomechanics and Analysis to Clinical Assessment and Rehabilitation, and Running Analysis.

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