Stability for running speed!

Oct 28, 2021

For all good runners, stability is a must. It’s the key to efficiency and to longevity.

Creating a strong base of stabilizers through your kinetic chain is vital to improving performance and keeping a healthy body in fast runners. This blog will explain:

  • What are stabilisers?
  • How do they help performance?
  • How do you strengthen them?

What are they?

Stabilisers are a type of muscle that as the name suggests give you stability. In particular, they control rotational movements in joints. A simple example would be the oblique abdominals. If you are running in a straight line, they will work steadily to control the rotation in your trunk. As seen in our previous blogs, the more you rotate in your trunk the more energy you lose and the more fatigued you will become. These stabilizers are throughout the body, and if working properly will keep your joints safe, and let your stronger mobilisers take care of the heavy work.

How do they help performance?

Stabilisers allow your mobilisers to work how they should, lengthen and contract. Quads, hamstrings, glut ma are examples of. muscles that provide strength and power, and are allowed to do this if they work from a stable base. If your stabilizers are not switched on your mobilisers will take on this role in addition to creating movement. So think of a hamstring, which needs to be able to lengthen and shorten through a leg cycle during running. If you have a lack of stability at the hip or knee due to stabilising muscles being inefficient – the hamstrings try to take on the role. This will come in a form of rigidity and tightness. If you try to run fast over a short or long distance, with a hamstring which is already semi contracted because it has taken on an additional role of stability, it will overwork and possibly tear.

This is true throughout the body, another example would be a bench press. If you have an unstable shoulder, then your pec major will take on that stabilisation role. If you then attempt a heavy bench press the muscle will not have as much to give to ove and propel the weight. This is inefficient.

Stabilize to mobilize.

How do you strengthen them?

Think ‘form, think ‘control, think ‘endurance’. This is how you work stabilisers. The work should be fatiguing but repeatable. Not pushing over and over until you can’t move anymore and have jelly legs. Repeatable exercise where your form will wane over time, but not diminish completely. The glut medius stops the knee rotating inwards across the midline of the body. On a long run it has to do this repetitively for up to four and a half hours – depending on how far you run. So you don’t work it by putting as much weight as you can on it and doing 5 sets of 3.

You take a level of resistance where you can control your movement for between 30 seconds and one minute. Overall you are looking to complete two minutes of work with as many sets as you require. You know the resistance is the right level if your form starts to fail. Your exercise will become dominated by other muscle groups. That’s when you know you’re at the right level. Similar to mobilisers you should look to work these groups three times per week to see quality improvement. They can be isometric or through range depending on how you want to train.

An example as I mentioned before is controlling rotation. You do not want to rotate at the trunk while you run. So take a resistance band in two hands, adopt a split stance and take tension on the band. Avoid allowing your trunk to rotate for 30 seconds to one minute depending on resistance. This is how you gain stability.


Have you practiced working your stabilisers? If you have a great base you allow your larger muscle groups to perform and their maximum capacity.

  1. Stabilisers are smaller muscles that control rotation throughout the body and protect your joints.
  2. If working properly you have a stable base allowing your mobilisers to work harder.
  3. Exercise them at an appropriate level of intensity that is repeatable without losing form.
  4. Focus on control and quality of movement for a period of time, not how heavy or how many you can do.


Core Strength for Stronger Running