8 Stabilizing Exercises For Runners

8 Stabilizing Exercises for Runners | Jennifer Diaz

The Country Music Marathon is three months away and over the past few weeks (sans the last few beautiful snowy days) the sidewalks here in Nashville have been busy with more walkers and runners than usual! Setting a goal of running a half or full marathon is a great way to elicit motivation and gain consistency in your exercise routine! You can also build community by joining a training group and meeting new people with similar interests! I ran the CMM in 2009 and 2010, and with over 20,000 participants and various musical entertainment, it is very energizing and fun!

If you're planning on participating in a half or full marathon this year, I'm sure you've been researching quite a bit of information. After all, you want to make sure you're fully trained and prepared, so you can have the best experience possible! In my opinion, one of the most important things you can do for yourself when preparing for a race is cross train. Making sure the muscles heavily involved in your gait are strong and can endure the mileage plays a huge role in the health of your joints, success of your race, and how you'll feel after you cross the finish line! Below are 8 of my favorite stabilizing exercises that can help improve your running and walking strides, so you can be sure to feel great during and after your race!

1. Lateral Steps

This is a great move for your hip stabilizers (the glute minimus and medius). Put a resistance band around both ankles. Keeping your shoulders back and knees bent, step to the side making sure your toe points forward at all times. Slowly bring your other foot back to the starting position. Perform 2 sets of 20 repetitions on each side.

2. Diagonal Step

With the resistance band around your ankles, take a diagonal step forward and out to the side, keeping your toes pointing straight ahead. Then, slowly bring your back foot up to meet the front one. This will help strengthen your hip flexors and abductors. Perform 2 sets of 20 repetitions on each side.  

3. Side Lunge

Take a large step out to the side while keeping your opposite leg straight and sit back into a lunge, keeping your knee behind your toes, shoulders back and head up. Then, push off the ground and back to the starting position. Perform 2 sets of 20 repetitions on each side.

4. Plank + Leg Lift

In a full plank position with shoulders directly over your wrists, lift one leg as high as you can while keeping your hips facing the ground. This is one of my favorite moves because it works so many different muscle groups (shoulders, triceps, chest, core, hip flexors, quads, and glutes)! Perform 2 sets of 20 repetitions on each side. 

5. Single-Leg Hip Raise

Lying on your back with one knee bent and the other leg straight, push through your heel and lift your hips as high as you can keeping them level. *Lowering your raised leg so that your quads are even and lifting your arms off of the ground will make this move more challenging. Perform 2 sets of 20 repetitions on each side or 4 sets of 30 second holds each side.

6. Bird Dog

Starting on all fours, make sure your hip is directly over your knee and your shoulder over your wrist, lift the opposite arm and leg as high as you can keeping your hips square to the ground! Perform 2 sets of 20 repetitions on each side. 

7. Fire Hydrant or Hip Abduction

Start in the same position as above, but this time with one leg straight out to the side. Keeping that leg straight and toes facing forward (not up) lift your leg as high as you can. *For a modification, bend that leg and lift out to the side. Perform 2 sets of 20 repetitions on each side. 

8. Hip Adduction

Laying on your side, bend the top knee and place your foot in front of the bottom leg. Then, lift the bottom leg as high as you can. This exercise works the hip adductors (inner thigh muscles), which can help you have a healthy foot strike when you run and walk. Perform 2 sets of 20 repetitions on each side. 

Perform these exercises 2-3 times a week on non-consecutive days to see the maximum benefits! Once they begin to feel easy, add another set to the routine! And as always, stretch afterwards!

Happy training!

*All photos by Kelsey Cherry