By Jenna Anderson

With spring sweeping down the valley, it’s time to hop off the treadmill and take to the trails and running paths. However good it feels, running is still a high-impact sport, and one that can wreak havoc on your knees and hips. But a few form tweaks (as long as you’re healthy to begin with) can help to teach the muscles where they need to be. Add the following circuit into your routine a few days a week to help build muscle memory and stabilize your running mechanics. The only thing you’ll need is a band and an ankle cuff.

PAW BACKS These help teach the foot to land directly beneath the hip. Heel striking in your running stride can lead to back, hip, and knee pain from a run. When your foot lands beneath you, catching the weight with the forefront of the foot and landing with it beneath you helps to reduce the impact on your joints. Use an ankle wrap and a band, attaching the band high, and step back allowing the tension in the band to pull your foot up. Keeping the leg straight, snap the foot explosively downward, landing it directly beneath your hip. Do 15. If you need help with stabilization, put a chair next to you so you can lightly hold it.

KNEE DRIVES Strong hip flexors and rotators will help you keep your feet, knees and hips moving directly in front of you, which is important for injury prevention and body stabilization. Lower the band to a height where it draws your foot straight back but still allows you to stand up tall, your toe balancing on the ground or, if you want a challenge, slightly lifted. From there, drive the knee directly forward, shifting your weight onto the opposite leg and using your core to keep you upright and stable. Release the leg backward, without letting the band snap or jerk your leg back. Repeat 10 times.

FLYING LUNGES These teach explosive drive and hip power, along with stability in the landing. For a modification, simply step quickly and explosively. Lower the band to just above the floor or ankle level – you’ll want to find your comfort level. Step forward just enough to create tension on the band, with the foot underneath the hip. Exploding forward and up, leap out into a fully extended lunge. Pause at the lunge, then step back explosively, coming back to stand and planting your foot directly underneath your hip. Repeat 10 times.

Stay focused on driving the knee forward, keeping the hips square, and landing with the foot straight forward. Eventually, with practice, the body will learn the direction to move, and you’ll be able to bring your mindfulness into your run, practicing moving the lower body forward. And with a strong, engaged core, the upper body will more closely follow, reducing the energy, drag, and force on your body. Run into summer with less stress and effort with a few body mechanic adjustments.

Make sure to let us know how this workout helped and send us your running pictures on the Inner Power Training Facebook Page.

Jenna is a trainer and competitive physique athlete with a passion for yoga. She can usually be found at Flathead Health and Fitness in Kalispell helping others reach their health goals either in class or through one-on-one sessions. She also offers personal training. Contact her at www.innerpowertraining.com