More important and more successful than adding elements to your running routine is the process of integrating posture, mobility, and strength work into your everyday life. You can work on many of these skills all day, every day.
Most of the stretches and exercises can be integrated into your everyday life outside of running. Here are a few suggestions:
BALANCE ON ONE FOOT WHILE BRUSHING
One of the most common suggestions seems almost too easy. This time is already scheduled and you likely don’t need the mind space to focus on the act of brushing. The trick is remembering to do it early in the morning and making it habitual.
BALANCE ON ONE FOOT WHILE PUTTING ON SHOES
Don’t sit. Stand and balance on one leg while you reach for and pull on your sock, then your shoe. Stay balanced while you tie the laces. Then switch feet and repeat. Alternate which foot you start with, so that each day you’re balancing barefoot on a different side.
GLUTE EXERCISES AS PART OF YOUR MORNING ROUTINE
When I bought a hand-crank coffee grinder a few years ago, I started doing air squats during the time it took me to grind the beans. Now I can finish 15 to 20 squats while cranking enough for an espresso. It was the first time I was ever that consistent, and it made a huge difference in my glute strength and activation. Now I can’t grind without doing squats. It’s part of the same action in my mind.
While his espresso is brewing, Caspar Coppetti, one of the founders of On shoes in Switzerland, does clamshells, the floor exercise where you lay on one side with legs bent and open and shut your knees while keeping your feet together.
“I’d like to just drink the coffee,” he said. But he tells himself, “If you don’t do the clams, you don’t get the coffee.”
Be creative, but find something you’ll do that doesn’t require a decision every day. Make it part of your routine.
SIT TALL WHILE DRIVING
Even though you are sitting in the driver’s seat, you can work on posture by sitting as tall as you can. Bring your chest and shoulders up, tighten your abs and reduce the curve of your spine. Pull your head back and high. Set your rearview mirror for this height — every time you slouch, it will remind you by being out of line.
WORK ON YOUR BALANCE WHILE STANDING IN LINE
Essentially, any time you are standing, think about rotating your hips so they aren’t spilling out the front and getting your balance over your feet, not locked back on the heel. Do it during the national anthem at your kid’s Little League or basketball game. While you’re at it, stay standing during the game if you can find an unobtrusive place, keeping good posture for as long as you can.
Do ab contractions while driving
When you get bored on a long drive, try contracting your TA muscle (the inner abdominal one between your hip bones) and holding it tight as long as you can, timing it with the dashboard clock.
CUE YOUR GLUTES WHEN WALKING DOG
Any time you’re walking you can consciously activate your glutes. Get tall and clench your butt on each side with each stride, pushing each leg back with a slightly exaggerated motion and landing beneath you, not reaching out in front.
Do hip extension stretches while working on your computer
Just push the chair to the side and kneel on one knee in front of your desk. Get your hip rotated and hold it while you check email. Five minutes per side goes quickly during the workday. You can do it two or three times: in the morning, after lunch, and during your final few, last-check minutes of the day.
DO FOOT EXERCISES AT YOUR DESK
Even with your shoes on, you can do the short-foot exercise or isometric pushes against the floor and the sides of the desk.
Sports podiatrist Robert Conenello suggests stretching the top of your foot and shin at your desk. They get tight from driving and always being held in a flexed position — bent toward the leg — rather than extended down and back. “Take your foot, put it behind you with (your) toes extended, and push down,” he says. Or, he suggests, “Focus on pushing your big toe into the ground during a lecture.”
STRETCH YOUR HIPS WHILE ON THE PHONE
Lift one leg onto your chair, make yourself tall and push forward on the supporting hip. No one can see you, and it doesn’t require heavy breathing. Or balance on alternating legs — just make sure you don’t lose your balance.
Do stretches, bridges or foot strengthening while watching TV or reading in the evening. You just have to get your butt off the couch.
SQUAT WHEN YOU’D USUALLY BEND
Rather than bending down from the waist, stick your butt out and lower into a squat when you’re weeding the garden, picking strawberries, petting your dog, picking up the kids’ toys or rearranging the bottom bookshelf. Squatting feels like more work at first, but for extended tasks you quickly note how it moves the stress from your back to your glutes, and you’re changing the way you move.
Be careful to maintain good form, with your knees never extending in front of your toes. Your knees should not hurt and you should not force a squat.
WORK ON HIP EXTENSION WHILE ASLEEP
If you sleep on your side, you likely pull both legs up into a fetal position. I’ve found that if I straighten the lower leg while keeping the upper bent, then roll forward a bit, I can stretch that hip flexor and lie comfortably balanced. I can even fall asleep in that position.
Adapted from “Runner’s World Your Best Stride” by Jonathan Beverly.