Stability Ball Cross Training Exercises for Runners

March 14, 2017

Looking to improve your running this year? Try a running coach and these 8 cross training exercises for runners to increase core strength, posture, stability and balance.

My Story
One of my goals for 2017 was to try to like running (again). Don’t get me wrong, I like the after effects of running, and I also like being outside, BUT heading into the end of 2016 I can say I really wanted to break-up with running. To remedy this I gave myself a goal and reached out to a running coach I had met over a year ago at the American Heart Association Workplace Wellness Summit event. Jessica Green of Hotbird Running met with me and patiently listened as I described the current status of my running which was, “I hope I wind up going on the weekends.”  I told Jessica I wanted to complete the Smith Rock Ascent a little bit faster than I had completed it last year,  I wanted to look forward to running, and to run with a purpose. Soon after our first meeting I received my 12 week training plan and while getting out the door to start the run is still challenging, once I am doing my running plan I am engaged, excited and committed to running more than once every 2 weeks!

The Exercises
An essential part of my running plan is to do cross training 2x per week. Since I am a Personal Trainer, Jessica left me to create my own plans for this which has inspired me to share with my runner friends some of the cross training exercises for runners that I have been doing. The cross training exercises for runners shown below use a stability ball and focus on three elements that all athletes need to perform at their best: Postural Strength, Symmetry/Stability, and “Core Strength.” Please use these movements at your own risk, OR seek out a certified personal trainer in your community to assist you in performing these movements correctly.

Postural Strength: If you are reading this post right now,  you are most likely sitting at a computer or sitting down with your phone HUNCHED FORWARD….It’s ok! We all find ourselves in this position throughout the day. The important thing is that we do something about it! Making sure that our middle back, upper back, and shoulders can maintain us in a good vertical posture is very important because it impacts our respiration (the ability to inhale and then also exhale) If you start to slump forward while running you limit your oxygen intake and also begin to send a negative chain reaction throughout your entire body. Posture exercises are great cross training exercises for runners.

Stability and Symmetry: It is nearly impossible to have even strength from right to left sides of the body, BUT we can surely try to achieve it! From injuries when we were younger, or repetitive motions we do in a current sport or job, it is very common for one side of our body to be our dominant side. We are strong and more balanced on this side, and while it might not matter on a 3 mile run, as you run or do a sport for a longer amount of time, these differences can start to manifest themselves in small (or large) injuries. Doing single leg movements and balance oriented training helps us begin to even out the strength between both sides of the body. Not listed here, but also of GREAT importance is MOBILITY. Some people need to strengthen regions of their body to provide stability in gait/running, while others need to increase MOBILITY so that they are not fighting their own range of motion while running. For an awesome hip mobility/stability routine I highly suggest Hip Neutral by Trainer John Lindala. It personally has worked wonders for me!

Core Strength: While people tend to think of our core as our abs, it is truly everything from the bottom of your gluts, to the top of your rib cage. This region of the body is important to keep strong because it will aid in efficiency of running by translating the strength of your arm swing down to your legs when your legs get tired, AND with strong gluts and hips your knees are less likely to take a beating!