The Lunge-Balance Sequence
A strength, range-of-motion, balance and posture routine for runners in a hurry. – By Jonathan Beverly
Runners know they should work on dynamic strength and flexibility, but many are busy enough trying to fit the distance in. These runners need not give up and do nothing. Working with natural-running expert Mark Cucuzzella, physical therapist Trent Nessler, and kinesiologist and coach Ryan Green, we devised a sequence that flows naturally from pose to pose. After it is learned, it is easy to remember; eight to 10 sets take approximately five minutes to complete. (We timed it.) “This is especially effective for those under time constraints for their workout,” Green says.
This sequence reinforces several key elements of an efficient stride, specifically hip and glute strength, hip and shoulder flexibility, and dynamic balance.
Move through the exercises smoothly and slowly before and/or after every run, or at other times during the day. Hold each position for one to two seconds.
Injury-prone runners or those looking to move to a new level of running should take the time to learn a full strength sequence and schedule the time to do it.
- Start by standing tall, weight balanced on the balls and heels of both feet.
- Step into a lunge with your left foot forward, knee tracking straight over your second toe and not extending forward past your foot. Raise both arms as if reaching for a high shelf above your head, rotating your pelvis back and stretching your right hip flexor as you focus your upper body on being straight and tall.
- Sink down and place your right hand on the ground to the right of your front foot. Bring your left arm over your left knee and lower it to touch the inside of your left ankle with your left elbow.
- Bring your left hand back over your knee and place both hands on the ground in track starting position. Rock your weight to your back leg, getting the heel down toward the ground and stretching your left hamstring.
- As you straighten to a standing position, swing your right leg forward and up and pause briefly in balanced running pose with your right thigh parallel to the ground.
- Grab your right knee with your right hand and your shin with your left hand and pull upward toward your right shoulder to stretch your glute.
- Rotate your right leg down and back, then straighten and lift it behind you while you drop your upper body to a horizontal position and reach down with your right hand to touch the ground to the right of your left foot.
- Step into a lunge with your right foot forward, swinging arms over your head.
Repeat the sequence eight to 10 times on each side.