Squaring up the body (where the hips and shoulders are level to the ground and do not rotate during the running action) is critical to safe, efficient running…especially if you run barefoot. As part of my squat/scoot technique of mid-foot, quiet running, I train my Team Over The Top clients in how to square up. This almost becomes a mantra that serves as a reminder to brace the core, centre the body and hold a powerfully locked-in body position throughout every run.
To help you do this, the following core exercise circuit is recommended:
- the Quad Squat – standing, brace the whole core and extend 1 leg out in front as you squat on the other leg. Bring the forward leg back, then extend out to the side. Straighten up and extend the leg behind. Straighten up and wrap the leg around the other leg. Repeat on the other leg
- the Airplane – standing, brace the whole core with arms extended to the side. Standing on 1 leg, extend the other leg straight back. Slowly rotate the whole body to 1 side and back. Repeat to the other side. Do this 5 times to each side
- the Forward Squat Lean – standing, extend the arms over the head, brace the whole core and slowly bend forward from the hips. Keep the buttocks pressing forward, the arms against the side of the head and the knees bending as you bend forward. Push out from the knees as you squat. Hold once the upper body is parallel to the ground and slowly return to upright position, holding the braced position
- the Russian Twist – lying supine on a stability ball, hold a weighted medicine ball in your hands with arms fully extended in front of your head. Brace the core and rotate whole upper body slowly to 1 side and back. Repeat to the other side. Do 12 to 15 reps per side
- the Reverse Crunch – lying in the supine position, hold the legs with the knees bent and the arms out-stretched and flat on the ground. Slowly swing the knees to one side and back before swinging them to the other side and back. Repeat 12 to 15 times per side, making sure to keep the arms flat and the knees tucked off the ground
Of course, you do these barefoot. With minimal equipment required, you can do these in almost any gym or home gym. I recommend 2 or 3 sessions of these weekly to compliment your running and other fitness activities. The full circuit should take not more than 20 minutes. Beyond this, most of my runners put the Barefoot-Science inserts into their footwear (work shoes, dress shoes, running footwear, sports shoes) to compliment the bracing exercises. The inserts work to activate the proprioceptive loop in the feet, thus ensuring the squared up position is maintained throughout your day. The results as to improving the ability to hold the squared up position are nothing short of amazing for my runners as they will be for you!