Building Strength When Injured: Core Routines for Injured Runners

Tayte Pollmann’s articles are supported by American Trail Running Association corporate member Nike Trail Running. You can follow Tayte’s adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Hey, hey! You there; reading this article! Tayte is not currently injured. The boot worn is for demonstration purposes only.

Injuries might sideline us from running for weeks, months, or even years, but they also give us the opportunity to improve in new ways as athletes. We can shift our energy to improve other parts of our training, such as mental strength, nutrition, cross training, technique and core strength.

For this article, I will focus on the importance of performing core exercises when you’re injured to help you stay in shape, run stronger and avoid future injuries. Listed below are two low-impact core routines you can perform while injured, and even while wearing a medical-grade boot. Check first with your doctor to make sure these exercises will not aggravate your injury. These routines are beneficial for healthy runners too!

Physioball Core Routine for Injured Runners
Doing these physioball exercises targets stabilizer muscles in your core. Most exercises are performed in a non-weight bearing position, which is ideal for many types of injuries. Perform each of the exercises in this video for the prescribed number of repetitions. Once you have finished all the exercises, repeat the sequence one to two more times. This should take 10 to 15 minutes. Rest as needed between exercises and sets.

NOTE: The boot worn in this video is for demonstration, I am not currently injured! This boot was previously featured in my article, My Life in a Boot: Are You in Denial About Your Injury.

  • Plank Pikes (12 times)
  • Hamstring Holds (12 raises per leg)
  • Roll out (12 times)
  • Jacknife (12 times)
  • Roll Ups (12 times)
  • Single Leg Plank Hold (30 seconds per side)

Dynamic Core Routine For Injured Runners
The exercises in this routine can be performed without a physioball or any equipment. These exercises work your core dynamically, mimicking how your core muscles engage while running. Once you have gone through the full sequence of exercises, perform the routine one to two more times. This should take 10 to 15 minutes. If you want more of a challenge, combine this routine with the physioball routine. Do two to three sets of each routine.

  • Plank with Twist (8 per side)
  • Bird Dogs (12 per side)
  • Side Plank with Leg Lift and Twist (30 seconds of leg lifts, followed by 30 seconds of twists)
  • Bicycle Knee to Elbow (12 per side)
  • Abdominal Hip Thrust (30 seconds)
  • Supermans (12 per side)