Exercises for Muscle Balance & Injury Prevention

Give yourself a chance to prevent so there isn’t as much to correct for optimal results

Denise Beatty
Photo: Graham McKerrell

Have you considered that what you do before and during your activities may make the most powerful difference in your training results and injury prevention?

Have you tried optimizing your training by contracting and activating key muscles you need for your activity before you train, and even during your training or endurance event?

Imagine how much damage can be done in endurance, strength and other activities after thousands of reps with an unstable spine, the inability to access deep hip flexors, or to effectively contract glutes on one side of the body in every single step, squat or pedal if you don’t take time before activity to address imbalances? What if the exercises you do before you train stabilize your spine, feet, hips, shoulders and more to help you use all muscles more evenly and efficiently to prevent fatigue and injury?

If you are ready for a new approach to your training, apply this effective MOVEMENT PREPARATION (warm-up) and RESET to help balance your spine, hips and shoulders. These isometric and dynamic exercises were designed from 23+ years training beginners to Ironman athletes. They will condition key stabilizers that contribute to efficient running, hiking, squatting, golfing and cycling. This has been a positive turning point for people struggling with chronic, nagging issues who love moving.

Follow exercises in the order shown for optimal results as a Movement Preparation, or add any exercise as a quick Reset mid-activity, or as a Strength Isometric Challenge within any workout to optimize squatting and lifting technique!

3 Options for Application of All Exercises

Movement Preparation

  • Move slowly into each position.
  • Isometric hold 3-5 seconds in each end range.
  • 2-5 reps of each movement, or until balanced.


  • 1-2 reps of 5 second holds or slow movements i.e. Rotating push-ups one rep on each side, hold 5 seconds.

Strength Isometric Challenge

  • Move slowly into each position.
  • Hold 5-15 seconds in each end range – INTENSE! Keep quality high!
  • 10-15 reps of each.

1. One-Leg Deadlift with Shoulder Abduction

Focus: Shoulder and hip stability, balance, foot strength.

  • MVT: Loop resistance band around wrists, pull outwards lift knee up into band to feel hip flexor contract, hold with breastbone up, neutral spine, hinge forward until lifted knee is aligned with supporting leg, reach forward as leg extends, hold, bring knee back into band, hinge back up.
Photo: Graham McKerrell

2. Rotated/Rotating Push-Ups

Focus: Activate core, open chest and shoulders, connect upper and lower body.

  • MVT: Engage glutes, core, float shoulders up and back, press fingers and toes into floor, legs straight (option: elevate hands). Spin in middle of both arms to the right, opening left shoulder, lower chest towards ground. Hold 5 seconds, press up.
Denise Beatty
Photo: Graham McKerrell

3. Back, Core and Hip Activator

Focus: Stabilize hips and spine, optimize gait patterns, control, and power.

  • MVT 1: Arched Hip Hike: On side in front of a wall, hips square, leg abducted and pulling back into wall, hike top hip in towards ribs and away while leg stays up and back.
  • MVT 2: Neutral Hip Hike: Repeat MVT 1 with hips under a bit for more neutral spine.
  • MVT 3: Abductor Raise Hip Extension: Hold neutral spine, brace abs, glutes pull heel back into wall, rotate leg inwards, lower leg down wall and back up without hips moving.
  • MVT 4: Eccentric Abductor: Top leg straight in front, brace pelvis, glutes control lowering towards floor and back up.
Denise Beatty
Photo: Graham McKerrell

4. Ankle Mobility in Knee Extension and Flexion

Focus: improve ankle mobility, knee and hip stability.

  • Movement (MVT): lift straight leg, move ankle/foot in any direction. Repeat ankle work with knee bent. Excellent marathon reset, opens jammed ankles/feet.
Denise Beatty
Photo: Graham McKerrell

5. C.R.A.F.T. Scissors Contra-Rotation Affecting Force Torque

Focus: improve rotational strength, balance, hips and ankles.

  • MVT 1: Stagger legs, feet forwards, contract abs and rotate to front leg, rotate hips opposite way. Hold 5 seconds, can pull legs inwards like scissors closing, or press apart.
  • MVT 2: Improve vestibulo-ocular reflex. Hold rotation, tight core move eyes or head in any direction.
Denise Beatty
Photo: Graham McKerrell

Follow fitnessfix.ca on Instagram, thefitnessfix on Facebook. For these and other exercise videos, visit fitnessfix.uscreen.io or www.fitnessfix.ca.

Read this story in the digital edition of IMPACT Magazine.

Photography by Graham McKerrell

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