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Stability Ball Exercises for Trail Runners

By Jon-Erik Kawamoto

Trail running is a lot of fun, but it requires a heightened level of awareness, strength and balance. With the unpredictable terrain, jutting rocks and exposed roots, your feet, legs and hips are going to have to be on high alert. Supplementing your running program with appropriate strength training stability ball exercises is a must if you want to develop resiliency for the trails.

Grab a Ball

A stability ball is a great piece of fitness equipment that runners can use to improve core and hip stability and lower body strength in the comfort of their own home. Perform these exercises up to three times a week.

dead bug stability ballDead Bug with Ball Squeeze and Leg Lowering

For anterior core stability

How-to: Lie on your back, lift your legs off the ground and squeeze the ball in between your thighs and hands. Form a 90-degree angle at your knees and a less than 90-degree angle at your hips. Press your low back into the floor, brace your core muscles and fully exhale. Lower one leg toward the floor but do not lose the tightly pressed low back position. Bring the leg back to the ball, inhale, exhale then repeat with the other leg. Perform six sets, each until you cannot maintain your back with the floor.

stability ball hamstringsHamstring Curl and Hip Lift Combo

For leg and hip strength

How-to: Lie on your back with the ball placed beneath your lower calves. With your arms out to the side with your palms up, lift your hips off the ground and form a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Roll the ball toward you. As your knees bend, lift your hips. Finish by placing your feet flat on the ball while fully contracting your butt. Return to the starting position and perform 15 reps. On the 15th rep, keep the ball in and with your feet still flat on the ball, lower your hips to the ground. Press into the ball and raise your hips up. Form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders and fully contract your butt. Perform 15 reps. Complete three sets.

core stability ballJackknife to Push Back

For anterior core stability

How-to: Go into the top of a pushup with your hands on the floor and the ball on your lower shins. Form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles and brace your core. Roll the ball toward your stomach then roll it out. Next, push your body toward the ball – the ball will roll up your shins to your knees. Maintain a tight core and don’t let your low back sag. Return to the starting position. Repeat six sets, each until you cannot maintain your tight core position.

stability ball strengthBall on a Wall Single Leg Squats

For leg strength and hip stability

How-to: Stand next to a wall and lean slightly into the ball sandwiched between your hip and the wall. Lift your inside foot off the ground and hold your arms out like a zombie. While keeping pressure into the ball, squat down on your outside leg, roughly 20 cm. Ensure your outside knee tracks straight and that your pelvis remains level–don’t dip or twist. Return to standing and perform 15–20 reps. Perform on both legs and complete three sets.