I’m going to talk to you all today about balance: why it’s important if you’re a runner, some changes that can happen to your balance if you are postpartum, and, if you do find some deficits, how you can work on your balance.
Balance is important as a runner, because if you have decreased balance, it can lead to some compensations in your running form, which means you’re less efficient, and that means more work for your pelvic floor to do. If you have impact while you’re running, and you have additional balance issues that can lead to or exacerbate problems like leaking or prolapse-type symptoms.
Balance also changes postpartum. After we have our babies, our center of gravity is different, our base of support is different, even our feet can change – they can get wider, or they can grow longer – all of these things can lead to decreased balance. If you are someone that is postpartum, a quick and easy assessment you can give yourself is standing on one leg (you will want to do this on both sides) arms across your chest, for 20 seconds. Can you stand for 20 seconds with really good stability? If you pass that with flying colors, then you can move on to standing on one leg, but with your eyes closed. Same as before: standing with eyes closed for 20 seconds. If you feel like you stumbled or it was challenging, then you probably want to include some different balance-type of activities in your strength training. Here are some ideas for you:
The basic, level-one activity would just be standing on one foot, just like the assessment you did standing for 20-30 seconds and you could also try closing your eyes. Once you’ve mastered that, moving on to some sort of single-leg RDL or a Running Man. For a single-leg RDL you are standing on one leg and you’re going to hinge forward from your hips and then stand back up.
You could change that into a Running Man, which is a little more running-specific, where you’re reaching out with one hand, and then you come up into that high knee.
You could also do a step down which would be standing on a yoga block or a step, balancing on one leg, and then the lowering yourself down to tap your heel, then standing back up.
Lastly, you could do a hip-airplane or a standing march. Both of these are a little bit more challenging. For your hip airplane, you want a soft bend in your knee, you’re going to hinge forward from your hips, and then you’re just going to open those hips up, stack one hip on top of the other and then come back down to the start.
For standing March, you could do it with or without a band if you need a little bit more resistance. Put a band around your feet and stabilize through one side, drive your knee up and then stand on the other side and drive that knee up. That one is a little bit more running specific, challenging your balance as you’re driving that knee up.
Those are just some ideas of ways to address balance. If you feel like you’re struggling at all, if you are postpartum, it’s really important. Check in. Make sure you have good balance and it’s going to make for an easier time when you start your return to run.
Here at Peak Endurance Performance & Physical Therapy we help active adults in the Madison Area get back to the activities they love without pain or limitations. We see people of all ages, ability levels, and individuals trying to get back to a multitude of movements including: getting back into running, women postpartum, CrossFit athletes, climbers, gymnasts, wrestlers, overhead athletes, and your recreational weekend warrior. If you’re looking to get back to the activities that give you meaning, relieve stress, and make you feel like you again, feel free to reach out below and we’ll see if we’re the right fit for you.