Coaching Tip: Balance

This week’s coaching tip is on balance. It’s something you probably already focus on if you are a member of the club if you do the Wednesday workouts. These workouts focus on single leg exercises, which of course will work on your balance too. When runners do strength work, they often neglect balance as many balance exercises don’t give obvious strength or aerobic benefits. BUT, they are really important, especially as we age and our balance deteriorates.
Why is balance important to runners?
Running is a series of thousands of alternate single leg hops, which rely on balance and coordination. According to a top physiotherapist, the top 3 most common running injuries that don’t relate to overuse, relate to balance: anterior knee pain, iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome and ankle sprains. They are connected to small movement deviations related to balance and control. A tiny amount of instability can be magnified over all those thousands of steps and lead to injury.
How to improve your balance:
Your first task is to assess how good your balance is at the moment. Do this by:
1. Try to balance on each leg for 30 seconds with your eyes open. Make sure you have good form for this: activate your glute on the grounded leg, keep your hips neutral by drawing in your belly button, bring your knee up to a 90 degree angle, keep your shoulders back and head facing forwards.
2. Now repeat with your eyes closed and see how long you can do it for.
Don’t be alarmed if one leg is worse than the other!
Once you’ve assessed your balance, you can now work on improving it.
This week, your challenge is to pick three balancing exercises that you are going to repeat on a regular basis (every second day will work well). I recommend the single leg arabesque, the split squat (also known as a static lunge) and a single leg hop and hold, but any three balancing exercises will do. You can find loads of variations in the Wednesday workout videos. Try to pick exercises that you don’t already find easy. You can see the hop and hold and arabesque demonstrated in workout video 26 in the MH Runner Club group.
On top of this, it really helps if you get into the routine of fitting balance work into your every day life, for example: stand on one leg and mobilise your raised ankle whilst brushing your teeth, or do single leg calf raises whilst waiting for the kettle to boil.
At the end of the week, repeat the balance test and let us know how you got on. And if you have any favourite balancing exercises, please share below.
Good luck and enjoy!

I hope that you can take something away from this blog. I would love to hear your thoughts and I’ve set up a very supportive free Facebook Community where like-minded people can share their experiences of life and exercising. Please feel free to join and invite others you know who may be interested.


I also have a Facebook Club for runners where I post two weekly workout videos, host a live weekly Ask The Coach question and answer session plus a monthly live webinar on a host of running related topics.  This is ideal for those who use free plans but want to have access to a coach and ongoing information.  You can find more information and join here.


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Martin Hulbert

Running Coach & Personal Trainer Leicestershire

MH Health and Fitness Online Community