Stability & balance requirements:
Once a person has cleared the flexibility and mobility requirements, it is about time to start shifting more focus to the stability, strength, and balance prerequisites for running. Running is basically the action of repeatedly hopping from one single leg balance stance to another. We need to be sure our bodies can tolerate these specific loads and positions. Even better we should create enough mobility and strength to act as a buffer for any excessive stress being placed on our bodies from running. To begin we will be looking at single leg balance, a rotary stability screen, and jump rope as a transition to learning stability and running technique.
1.Single leg balance
Begin by standing with your feet touching together. Looking straight ahead bring one of your feet up off the ground. Bring one of your knees up as high as possible and simultaneously pull your heel towards your butt in order to feel your hamstring engage. We are looking for a 10 seconds minimum on each side. If someone’s standing foot moves during the test, arms are used to help catch balance, or there is any pain present the test is not passing.
2. Rotary Stability
Begin by getting down onto the ground on your hands and knees (use padding under knees/hands as needed). Put your knees together, hands together, and make sure your toes are tucked under not flat on the ground. Bring one arm and the opposite leg off the ground and straighten each of them out. If someone loses their balance, their spine excessively rounds/arches, or there is any pain present the test is not passing. We are looking for a hold of 10 seconds minimum.
3. Jump Rope/Skipping
Jump rope is an excellent way to begin loading the movements necessary for running while simultaneously developing rhythm. If you can’t jump rope then you probably can’t run efficiently and rhythmically. There are three main feet variations I like to use when teaching someone how to jump rope: feet together, feet split, and single leg. In all three variations the feet should be moving in such a way that the heels are gently touching the ground every bounce. This is very important for running technique, efficient force transfer, and preventing certain tissues (mainly the gastroc/soleus complex) from over working.
As we begin to master these basic skills there should be a recognizable carryover to how it feels to run. However we still need to have a basic understanding of running technique in order to be as efficient and safe as possible. For this we will go over more jump rope drills, skipping, running drills, and simple ways to start programming these movements. Our goal is to seamlessly transition from these skills to a running program.