Professional runners are always looking for a competitive edge. The latest tool that’s helping them that’s helping them find that edge, is called a gliding disc. These discs cost roughly $10 and can be ordered on Amazon. They help runners do eccentric exercises to strengthen and lengthen the areas where they tend to be tight and weak.
On top of improving functional movement, eccentric loading has been shown to help repair tendon injuries. Several studies have found that pairing treatment with eccentric loading (especially in the Achilles tendon and hamstrings) has helped with healing. Here are a few examples of exercises you can do at home, with the help of gliding discs, to improve your strength and mobility. Side note: if you don’t want to purchase a disc, a small towel wrapped around your feet or hands will also do the trick.
Jessica O’Connell is an Olympian and coach who loves using discs in her strength workouts. “Using discs during strength training eliminates friction which can reduce stability and make exercises more challenging. I use discs for certain core and hip stability exercises such as mountain climbers and leg extensions. It’s important to continually challenge your body in different ways during strength training to continue to become stronger, and doing exercises with discs offers a different stimulus from traditional grounded exercises.”
Emma Coburn’s side lunges
Lunges are great for glute and hamstring strength. Adding sliding discs makes them a little more difficult without adding weight (though you can if you’ve mastered the exercise). Fellow steeplechaser Colleen Quigley also loves this exercise. She uses bands to make the side lunge a little more difficult.
Aisha Praught-Leer’s plank
Want to make planking a little harder? Slide one hand forward at a time like Praught-Leer. This exercise will strengthen both a runner’s arms and core. Remember, these exercises are all about control, so take things slowly.