November 16 2016
After months with a sore back, one runner started doing a plank every day. Here's how it eliminated her pain and helped her form.
Runners are notorious for being imbalanced when it comes to upper body strength. Not just for lack of cross training, but because the arm swing of running can be mostly driven by the pectoral muscle in the chest. You can often spot a runner because they are the ones whose shoulders are curled forward due to the imbalance between chest and upper back strength. If you find yourself in the category of runners with terrible posture, consider adding a stretching routine and a few exercises to help strengthen and bring balance to your upper body.
Reverse fly with band: Grab an elastic band and wrap it around a tree, a post or a sturdy piece of furniture just above the height of your forehead. With outstretched arms, hold the ends of the elastic band in either hand, then step back putting tension on the band. Standing tall with a neutral spine and ribs knit together, pull the bands out to your sides, keeping your arms slightly bent. The pull should come from your upper back as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Be sure not to let your ribs “pop” up to gain a larger range of motion. Instead keep the core engage and ribs tucked down. Do three sets of 10-12 repetitions.
Kettlebell Chainsaw Row: Take a staggered stance with your forward knee bent slightly and your other leg extended behind you in a half lunge. Fold forward slightly from the hips, keeping your back straight, ribs tucked and core engaged. Holding the kettlebell in one hand, extend your arm down towards the floor, then pull back the kettlebell back towards your chest by squeezing the shoulder blade and engaging the upper back. Repeat on each side, three sets of 10-12 repetitions.
Supermans: Lay face down on the floor with your hands extended out in front of you and your spine in a neutral position. Be sure not to arch your back to gain range of motion and keep your ribs tucked down, core engaged and pelvic floor drawn up. Alternate lifting one arm and then the other, gaining the lift by squeezing the shoulder blades up and back. You can also add in a leg motion by lifting the leg from the hip, or curling the leg from the knee.