Last week on the Running Coaches’ Corner I told you about hypermobility. I was blown away by the number of people that came to me and said they have hypermobility issues as well. I know I said hypermobility affects up to 25% of the population but typing it and then seeing it via comments and emails are two very different things!
One of the key questions I’ve been asked several times since last week is “if I’m hypermobile, what do I do about it?” I’ve been doing some field research, if you will, and have compiled a list of exercises that work for me. Before I get into them I must tell you I emphasize for me because every runner is different and every hypermobile runner/patient is different.
Strength Exercises for the Hypermobile Runner
Listen to Your Body
The exercises you can/should perform also may vary from day to day in terms of what feels good versus what may be stretching your limbs too much or in a wonky way. I mentioned last week that there have been many times I have been doing strength work only to feel a strange twinge in my knee, at which point I stopped the exercise in question. Since hypermobile runners/patients have a reduced sense proprioception (remember, that’s the body’s ability to sense joint movement and position in relation to the rest of the body) it is imperative that you are completely tuned into your body and listen to the cues it gives you.
Take Your Time
Something else to note is to go slowly. This is a mistake I have made time and again. When I first started working out, I ran 3 miles and then plowed through strength work at lightning speed, a la HIIT. And in all honesty, at that time in my life it was fine and I experienced no problems. But since my recent flare of hypermobility and arthritis, I have found myself tweaking a knee or hip (usually a knee) more often than not if I’m moving too quickly through my circuit.
All right, kids. Enough of my warnings. Just remember to listen to your body and go slowly…
Balance Poses and Exercises
Balance is key to keeping hypermobile runners safe. Working on balance will strengthen literally your entire body which is critical in keeping those ligaments and limbs where they belong. A few ideas for you to work on balance training:
- Tree Pose
- Dancer’s Pose
- Barefoot Balance Training on the Bosu (I haven’t done this one myself but after seeing Angela’s post on Instagram the other day about barefoot balance training, I thought I’d add it to the list.)
Resistance Band Work
My post on iliotibial band rehab has great resistance band exercises. These are generally safe for hypermobile runners and they do a heckuva job strengthening those hips and glutes. Strengthening the glutes and hips are important for runners of all types, but can often be to blame for a swath of running-related injuries particularly in hypermobile runners. My favorite resistance band exercises for hypermobility include:
- Lateral Shuffle
- Clam Shells
- Lateral Leg Lifts
Lunges, Squats, and Other Stuff
Lunges and squats are great for building that critical strength in the hips and glutes, but keep in mind some of them may not be ideal for hypermobility. Here are some that are pretty good:
- Backward Lunges
- Forward Lunges
- Mini Squats (without a medicine ball)
- Hip Hikes (Raises)
- Bridge with Hip Flexion
And some you may want to skip:
- Pistol Squats
- Side Lunges
(for examples of all the band and squat/lunge exercises, please click here.)
I don’t expect my hypermobility issues will magically fix themselves overnight. In fact, I’m bracing myself for a slew of injuries throughout this next training cycle. Hopefully I can keep some at bay by working on my balance and strength, but as a hypermobile runner I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m just more susceptible to injury than others. I do hope some of these tips and tricks help you along the way. Hopefully we’ll all end up strong runners together!
Oh — and about those dynamic warm-ups before a run… I can neither confirm nor deny if I do dynamic warm-ups. There may have been a time or two that I overextended an overly flexible joint during a dynamic warm-up.
TALK TO ME!
Are you a hypermobile runner? If so, what’s a lunge variation that works for you?
What’s your go-to exercise with the resistance band?