A blog by runners. For runners.

Why runners need good balance

Why runners need good balance (and how to get it)When you think about the assets that a make a well-rounded runner, good balance may be at the bottom of the list — if it’s on the list at all.

However, balance is an essential part of running, as we spend the majority of our time landing on one foot before quickly pushing off the other.

Running on paved, even surfaces in supportive shoes makes many of us take our balance for granted.  But don’t be misled — you maybe exerting more energy than you need to be on your run if you don’t have good balance.

It is also important to note that as we age, our balance begins to diminish because of factors like weakening eyesight, inner ear issues, or a slowing of reflexes and coordination.

To combat the effects of age and convenient running surfaces — and become a more efficient runner — try the following tips:

  1. Run on uneven surfaces occasionally. Whether this is sand, a trail, or even the grass, run on a surface that makes you pay attention to the planting of your feet and how this affects the other parts of your body. Notice the increased exertion you need when running on these types of surfaces.
  2. Take your shoes off. The controversy around barefoot running aside, run a few lengths of a field without your shoes on or take your shoes off at the beach. We’re not suggesting a 3 mile run: a few minutes during your cooldown are plenty. Don’t over exert by trying to go too far or too fast. Our feet are used to the structure of shoes so even a little barefoot time is enough to feel the effects.
  3. Do yoga or pilates. Both yoga and pilates work your balance by focusing on the core as well as balancing poses. Look out for a balance yoga sequence soon.
  4. Practice standing on one foot. Try this while washing dishes or waiting in line. Test how well you can rely on the strength of your standing leg. Make sure to practice on both legs. We tend to favor a certain side — usually the one that makes us feel most secure and the one we chose to stand on first.
  5. Strength train. Most of us have some kind of imbalance or another in our bodies. Take a time to figure out if one quad is weaker than the other or if you favor one calf over another. Use your gym time wisely –sometimes you don’t need the exact same number of reps on each side. By focusing on strengthening the weaker muscle you can work to rectifying this imbalance. (Related: strength training for runners)

Written bLisa Chase

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