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Image credit: Kasia Gondek - Selfie taken on one of my 18-mile long runs leading up to Boston Marathon, sporting my Boston Marathon running hat from the last time I did the race in 2014!
Image credit: Kasia Gondek - Selfie taken on one of my 18-mile long runs leading up to Boston Marathon, sporting my Boston Marathon running hat from the last time I did the race in 2014!

Road to Boston Marathon Part 2: Exercising at Home or in the Gym

10 Exercises to Improve Strength, Conditioning, and Balance

Leading up to the Boston Marathon, I have been incorporating these 10 key exercises into my weekly routine (3x/week) to keep my body strong and balanced. Videos of these exercises are posted below. These exercises target the key muscle groups used by runners. These are for educational purposes, not meant to treat medical conditions nor supplement medical advice. 

Mat-based Strength and Conditioning for Boston

  1. Sidelying Clamshell: strengthens your hip external rotators (gluteus maximus, piriformis, obturator internus). Be sure not to let your hips roll backwards!
  2. Single leg bridge with hip abduction isometric: strengthens hip extensors and knee flexors (hamstrings, gluteus maximus, and gluteus medius). Be sure to keep your spine neutral. I use a “roll-up and roll-down” technique here to ensure my back muscles don’t compensate for my hip muscles.
  3. Sidelying hip abduction with hip in slight internal rotation, followed by clockwise and counterclockwise hip circles: strengthens hip abductors, hip extensors, deep core muscles (gluteus medius, maximus, obliques, transverse abdominus). Don’t let your leg move forward as you do this exercise– that allows compensation with your TFL muscle (connects to IT Band) which most runners over-use!
  4. Sidelying Hydrant:  strengthens hip abductors. I use this exercise to build endurance in the already-fatigued glute muscles at this point in my exercise.
  5. Side plank with shoulder circles: Strengthens obliques, transverse abdominus, shoulder stabilizers, and hip abductors. This improves trunk stability as well. Runners need strong core muscles.

Dynamic Balance and Functional strengthening: 

  1. Front plank with reverse crunch: strengthens and builds endurance in transverse abdominis, hip flexors, obliques, shoulder stabilizers. This movement mimics the last part of your running stride which is important for propelling you forward.
  2. 3-way lunges (anterior, lateral, and posterior): improves dynamic hip, knee, ankle, and trunk stability in functional ranges of motion used during running and occasional cutting motions. This helps prevent knee, hip, and ankle injuries! 
  3. Multi-direction standing clamshell with resistance band: improves controlled axis of rotation motion at your hip joint in all ranges of hip extension, abduction, and hip flexion. This keeps your hip joint healthy and teaches you how to control knee motion during your running stride. 
  4. Isometric hip abduction wall squat with resistance band: This improves endurance of hip and knee stabilizers like your gluteus medius, quadriceps, gluteus maximus muscles. You will feel the muscle fatigue in the hip opposite the wall. Hold for 15-30 seconds to fatigue. 
  5. 3-way tree matrix with optional arm positions (sagittal, frontal, and transverse plane balance): this improves dynamic single leg balance and ankle stability to prevent ankle and knee injuries. Because your running stride changes with incline/ decline/ running on an uneven surface, it’s important to improve dynamic balance. It’s use it or lose it! When moving dynamically, you are training your vestibular system to respond to the changes in position and center of gravity throughout the diverse movements of the body. 

Whether you are looking at prepping for a 1 mile run or an ultra-marathon - WE GOT YOU! You can give us a call or contact us here (link to FusionWellnessPT.com Contact form). After we complete a physical exam to identify your areas of strength and weaknesses, we’ll customize a program to get you back to what you love.

Dynamic Balance and Functional strengthening for Marathon Training: 

  1. Front plank with reverse crunch: strengthens and builds endurance in transverse abdominis, hip flexors, obliques, shoulder stabilizers. This movement mimics the last part of your running stride which is important for propelling you forward.
  2. 3-way lunges (anterior, lateral, and posterior): improves dynamic hip, knee, ankle, and trunk stability in functional ranges of motion used during running and occasional cutting motions. This helps prevent knee, hip, and ankle injuries! 
  3. Multi-direction standing clamshell with resistance band: improves controlled axis of rotation motion at your hip joint in all ranges of hip extension, abduction, and hip flexion. This keeps your hip joint healthy and teaches you how to control knee motion during your running stride. 
  4. Isometric hip abduction wall squat with resistance band: This improves endurance of hip and knee stabilizers like your gluteus medius, quadriceps, gluteus maximus muscles. You will feel the muscle fatigue in the hip opposite the wall. Hold for 15-30 seconds to fatigue. 
  5. 3-way tree matrix with optional arm positions (sagittal, frontal, and transverse plane balance): this improves dynamic single leg balance and ankle stability to prevent ankle and knee injuries. Because your running stride changes with incline/ decline/ running on an uneven surface, it’s important to improve dynamic balance. It’s use it or lose it! When moving dynamically, you are training your vestibular system to respond to the changes in position and center of gravity throughout the diverse movements of the body.

Whether you are looking at prepping for a 1 mile run or an ultra-marathon - WE GOT YOU! You can give us a call or contact us here. After we complete a physical exam to identify your areas of strength and weaknesses, we’ll customize a program to get you back to what you love.

What Our Patients Have to Say

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Testimonial by Carolina J.

I had tried Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy before (with another PT) and I had a really bad (painful) experience. A friend of mine and fellow patient, told me about Heather, Laureen and Femina PT (née Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy) and I decided to try again. I am so happy I did! Femina PT have, literally, changed my life. I was able to do again things I couldn't do for over 10 years!! Their bedside manners are impeccable, their knowledge and understanding make me feel comfortable to recommend this place to anyone in pain. Specially if you have Endometriosis. 100% recommended!!

-- Carolina J., 12/28/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by Lauren B.

Femina PT (née Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy) has been such an answer to prayer, i'm so glad I found them! I've been struggling with vaginismus my whole life, but didn't have a name for it until about 6 or 7 months ago. Even once I did have a name for it though, I didn't know where to begin in getting help. My OB/GYN had me get a set of dilators, but I couldn't even insert the smallest one by myself. Most times I tried I just ended up frustrated and in tears. I felt really alone, like I was broken and didn't have the energy to keep trying. When I got engaged a few months ago though, I realized I needed to get answers so i wasn't dreading my honeymoon.

Read more: Testimonial by Lauren B.

Testimonial by A.B.

Before I was referred to Heather Jeffcoat I was living in a nightmare. I had been married to my husband for three years and I was suffering from Vaginismus. That all changed when I visited my OBGYN and she said she knew of someone with a great success rate. To be honest I was hesitant at first because my first doctor had already told me that all I needed to do was order dilators from the internet and I should overcome my problem. She was wrong because I had followed the book on how to use the dilators with absolutely no advancements in my condition. However, that all changed when I went in for my first visit and Heather took the time to explain my condition and how we were going to work together to overcome it.

I remember leaving her office with a glimmer of hope that I could live a normal life. As my sessions continued I began to see immediate results. With only four sessions and a strict dedication to my home programs I was cured of Vaginismus. In the beginning of this process I was made aware that my health insurance company might not cover the costs, which was disappointing but today I can say one hundred percent that it was the best money I ever spent. Now thanks to Heather I am finally enjoying my life to the fullest with my husband. Thank you Heather, I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate all that you have done for me. I will never forget it. Those who are suffering from these types of conditions don’t be afraid because she makes you feel so comfortable and the end result is worth it. Good luck to you all and I hope you experience the success I have.
-- A.B.

Testimonial by R.D., age 38

"I had a severe tear during childbirth that was not stitched together correctly and therefore healed poorly. Even after having a surgery a year later to remove the scar tissue, I was still having pain, and no one could explain why -- there was no overt 'reason' to explain the pain. I had tried other 'specialists' and even saw another physical therapist who had me do hip / leg stretches -- what a joke! I was about to give up and just 'live with it' until thankfully I kept searching online and found Heather.

Read more: Testimonial by R.D., age 38

Testimonial by A.W., age 32

I wanted to let you know that my pelvic floor held strong and gave me no trouble whatsoever in my trail race this morning (12 miles)! In a way, I felt like I ran better than ever because my core feels so rock solid from all the exercises you have me doing. That was especially valuable on the technical downhill - I just flew down the trail because I had confidence in my balance and form. Thank you for helping me get back to doing what I love.

-- A.W., age 32
(completed Post-partum Renewal Program using the InTone biofeedback/stim unit)

Testimonial by M.N., age 28

A personal journey and testimonial from one of my patients:

I was diagnosed with vaginismus 4 years ago. I never heard of such medical condition until after I got married. At first my husband and I didn't know what to do, we didn't know what the issues were or how to overcome it. Being born and raised in Armenia and being Christian I wasn't that open about talking to sex with others and so it wasn't easy to seek help. But eventually I went to an Ob-Gyn and luckily she knew about the medical condition (not many doctors know). She referred me to a physical therapist and I couldn't believe it and thought it's something I can handle myself. I ordered a kit from vaginismus.com and started practicing with dilators. There was some small progress but wasn't much helpful.

Read more: Testimonial by M.N., age 28

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