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5 must-do exercises for improved running form

Exercises runners can do at home to improve efficiency and decrease likelihood of injury

If you’re looking to fine tune your running form, basic strength exercises are the place to begin. With your inbox and Instagram feed becoming flooded with at-home workout tutorials, it’s hard to decide which ones to stick with. If you’re looking to take some time to improve your running fundamentals, you’ve come to the right place. Kris Sheppard is the co-founder of The Runner’s Academy in Toronto, a clinic that takes a holistic approach to treating running injuries.

Sheppard says there are five exercises that are critical for building a great foundation for a runner. They are the narrow squat, elevated lunge, hip hinge, hamstring slide and ankle holds. Mastering these exercises will help keep runners moving well and injury-free.

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Narrow squat

Keep your feet in line with your hips. This exercise trains the glutes, quads and prepares the body for the demands of shock absorption during running. At-home hack: If you don’t have a bench and weights, hold a few books and pull up a chair.

Elevated lunge

This is a great exercise to open up the hips and emphasize single-leg strength and stability, something that runners often neglect. At-home hack: use a few books or the last stair on your staircase to elevate your leading leg.

Narrow hip hinge

This movement is essential for power development. This exercise engages the posterior chain from head to toe. Efficient coordination of the hip hinge is key for power development during running. At-home hack: if you don’t have hand weights, putting a few canned items from your pantry in a bag will do the trick.

Hamstring slide

Eccentric strength, or lengthening a muscle under tension, is linked with running economy. It is also key for preventing hamstring and knee injuries. At-home hack: use a towel if you don’t have a disc. However, if you’re interested in getting a disc, ordering one online only costs about $10.

Ankle hold

Running involves using your leg like a stiff spring. This exercise teaches you to increase lower limb stiffness which is linked with a better running economy (carbon-plated shoes use this principle to improve a runner’s economy as well). At-home hack: use your stairwell instead of a step. If you’ve got a yoga mat, place that at the bottom of the stairs so you don’t slide around.