Counter Rotation Exercises for Runners

Counter Rotation Exercises for Runners

Running demands control in all three planes of movement: front to back, side to side, and twisting. This article focuses on the importance of training the rotational component of running and will give you five counter-rotation exercises you can easily implement into your strength training routine, to benefit your running!

“If you hold the drum and twist the handle equally in each direction, the beads at the end of the line on each side will swing, beating the drum on both sides in perfect synchronization. But if we bend the handle a bit then twist it, the beads hit out of sync. Instead of the fluid reciprocal energy exchange that we saw previously, there is now a block in the system and everything wobbles.”

To elaborate, as you run, twisting energy is going through your body. When your foot hits the ground, the twisting force works to rotate your leg and trunk inward. Ideally, this twist is balanced by counter rotation on the opposite side, by muscles that work to steer your body straight again. This counter rotation allows the body to maintain a smooth course as you run forward. Which is why it’s an important component to train.

When you have something that interferes with this counter rotation (a stiff foot, muscle imbalance, lack of control over spinal rotation, etc..) your body does not twist properly (like the drum when the handle is bent). This interference can lead to less efficient running, and can play a big role in instability injuries. 

To make sure that each joint has the mobility and stability to move through its range of motion in a controlled way, here are some exercises you can add into your strength training program.

Complete 1-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions of each exercise:

Each of these exercises has a link to a YouTube video showing how to perform them correctly. These exercises are great for before strength training as they work on mobility and stability, and can help create a better mind body connection before lifting. They can also be done after a run when you are slightly fatigued and really have to concentrate on controlling the movement. 

Rotational control may not be on the top of your list when it comes to training but they are an important piece to being a stronger, faster, and healthier runner. But make sure that you aren’t rushing through these, they are meant to be deliberate and slow so that you build the skills you need to move safely.

Give them a try and let us know what you think!

Happy Training,
Tunnel Marathons Personal Trainer


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