The 4 best exercises to improve your running

The importance of rib mobility

Our lower rib cage is a neglected part of the human body and its importance on running technique and efficiency. This is something I have become strongly aware of in the last decade focusing on working with runners.

You see, our thoracic (rib cage) area of our body is vital for mobility whilst running. By having a relaxed and mobile movement pattern, this enables the body to have better forward momentum from a larger part of the body. It means there is less reliance on the arms to create that counter balancing of the legs. So you’ll find your neck and shoulders hurt less when using better thoracic mobility.

Our lower ribs have muscles between each call intercostals and semispinalis. These are super important for allowing the rib cage to open up to allow better oxygen intake, as well as for rotation through the region. By these muscles activating nicely, it means that our lumbar muscles do not have to do what is called “reverse origin” activation. This happens when there is rigidity coming from higher up and another muscle has to activate to achieve a desired movement. Obviously this then leaves the lumbar muscles free to do their real job, which means less force (and potentially pain) through that region.

The following exercises are important for all runners to incorporate into their regime to ensure the lower rib cage area activates nicely to improve running technique and efficiency.

Bird Dog with band

Against band resistance, straighten leg and lift off ground, ensuring pelvis is stable. Lift opposite hand off the ground. Hold for two seconds and repeat.

Chest Opener

Lying on side, hips stacked, arms straight out in front. Rotate top arm from chest, with head following arm. Hold for two seconds and repeat.

Resisted Chest Rotation

Lying on side, hips stacked. Hands 10cm apart with band between them. Bring your top elbow to your side and then rotate from the chest. Head follows upper body. Hold for two seconds and repeat.