Whether you’re an avid runner or it’s just part of a workout routine you force yourself to do, running shouldn’t be the only exercise you’re doing. When you run, you’re generally working within a single plane of movement; flexion and extension. This can create some imbalances within the hips and legs, making you more prone to injury. It’s important to regularly perform some exercises that strengthen the supporting and stabilizing muscles throughout the hips and pelvis. So, here are 5 of the best exercises for runners to keep your body balanced and moving freely.

Side Leg Raises

Lay on your side, propped on your elbow, with your legs on top of one another. Lift up the top leg to 45 degrees and lower it back down. Repeat 15-20 times per side.

Bird dog 

Position yourself on the floor on all fours. Keeping your balance in mind and your core tight, lift your right arm and extend it straight out in front of you. Holding that position, lift your left leg and extend it behind you. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Bring both your arm and knee back under your body so you’re on all fours again. Repeat this exercise 10-15 times for each side. 

Hip Hikes

While standing on your left foot, drop the right side of your pelvis a few inches downward while keeping your left side in a neutral position. Then activate your core and pelvis and lift your right side back to a neutral position. Repeat this exercise 15-20 times on each side.

Single-Leg Bridge

Lay on your back with both your legs bent and your feet flat on the ground. Lift one leg and extend it straight up while you raise your lower back and butt off the ground. Hold this position for a few seconds and then lower back downwards in a slow controlled movement. Repeat this exercise 10-15 times on each leg.

Fire Hydrants

Position yourself on the floor on your hands and knees, then lift your right leg up to the side as if you’re a dog at a fire hydrant. Slowly lower down and repeat 10-15 times. Repeat for the left leg.

Notice that most of these have you moving in ways that differ from the typical pattern of running. This is to help strengthen those surrounding muscles, adding more stability to your movements and making you less prone to injury. These exercises can be done almost anywhere and can be a quick, easy addition to your routine. You’ll be amazed at how well it helps prevent injuries, and may even improve your run times and performance.