By Elizabeth Towe

We reach into our toolbox this month for an exercise that does not mimic the movement in running, cycling or swimming. It does, however, dynamically work muscles in the front, inside and outside of the hip through a full range of motion while holding a stable core. These are important objectives when base building and training through the season. We need to challenge shoulder, trunk and pelvis stability while allowing lateral hip mobility. This exercise strengthens the hips through a range not used in endurance activities, which is important to balance the body and avoid imbalances that can lead to injuries.

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  • Start in a plank position on your forearms, with your forearms parallel to each other (not in a triangle). Your elbows should be directly under the shoulder. Create a stable shoulder by pushing the shoulder blades down and in, like the letter J.
  • In order to minimize friction and allow the feet to slide on the floor, you have a few of options: 1) put each foot on a paper plate on a carpeted surface, 2) put each foot on a small wash cloth or hand towel on hardwood or slippery surface, or 3) socks on a slippery surface.
  • Find your stable plank and begin to slide both feet out and in without dropping the pelvis. Keep the knees straight, contracting quads and glutes.
  • Move at a quick but controlled pace, in and out/1-2 seconds x 20-30 for 2-3 sets.

We need to strengthen through all planes of motion to balance the body and avoid imbalances that lead to future injuries.

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Elizabeth Towe is a runner and a cyclist and the owner of Balanced Movement Studio in Carrboro. She graduated from East Carolina with a degree in exercise and sports science and has been personal training for over 20 years. Her ultimate goal for all of her clients is to help them realize and achieve the optimal quality in their life – and to remember to have fun doing it.