Want to quickly assess your risk for a future running-related injury? What about efficiency? Every runner wants to run fast with less effort. Would you like to peal back the curtain and observe a possible energy leak? You may look great as you run on the treadmill, along the river, or around the track but only a very skilled eye can pick up on inefficiencies in your stride. The secret is to slow down to expose the problem. With thousands of miles under your belt, you've already developed lots of strategies to make your stride as smooth as possible. Let's see what you're trying to cover up!
Check Your Balance
Since running is a series of single leg hops, you must possess excellent single leg balance both while standing still (static stability) and while moving other parts of your body (dynamic stability). It shouldn't surprise you that if you can't even balance on one foot you are destined for some sort of running issue – especially if you ramp up your training.
Simple test #1 – Stand on one leg with opposite thigh raised parallel to floor. There should be no loss of height and no visible leaning or wobbling. This is static balance. At a minimum, you need to be able to do this.
Simple test #2 – Walking slowly. VERY slowly. Spend 3 seconds on one foot before transitioning to your other foot. You'll be shocked at how difficult this one can be! More on the 3 second walk here.
Simple test #3 – Hip Airplane. Since we sit all day our glutes can become inhibited and uncoordinated. Problem: they are essential for proper running form. It is the rare client that can do this perfectly on their first try. How do you measure up? Check out the video below for instruction.
Good balance is characterized by looking easy. And it is if you are balancing authentically. The little stabilizing muscles close to your joints operate below the level of conscious control. If you are holding your breath or getting tired while balancing for 30 seconds, you are not skilled yet.
To improve your balance, practice the above movements frequently and precisely. This is a neuromuscular challenge and you will be amazed at the progress you can make in only a few days if you practice several times a day. If you're motivated to improve- the fastest progress comes to those practicing 15-20x/day in short 30 second bouts!