While treadmills fulfil your fitness needs, they don’t provide the scenery found in hitting the trails. Fresh air and nature’s finest promise an added endorphin rush, no queuing needed. However, trail running is a tad more challenging than pounding a treadmill. It demands endurance, strength, balance as well as agility.


Downhill running techniqueYou need to use the correct technique to reduce the damage caused to your leg muscles when running downhill. Research has shown that those new to downhill trail running have a tendency to lean back in an effort to slow down, which places more stress on your legs.The correct position is one where your body weight is centred over your knees(1) so that each foot strike occurs on the ball of the foot rather than the heel.(2) This posture leads to a faster descent, and prevents you from leaning back, which is not very efficient and can lead to injuries. Also, your elbows should be relaxed and slightly raised,(3) allowing for quick lateral arm motion to maintain balance and assist in steering.


The goal of the single-leg split squat on a stability ball is to improve independent leg strength and balance under stress. This is crucial due to the amount of lateral movement required during trail running. You’ll build strength and movement control off both legs – an important ability that ensures a specific leg is not favoured during trail running when avoiding obstacles.

Stand on one leg while placing the foot of your other leg on a stability ball located behind you. Initiate a squat on the supporting leg, while maintaining proper form and core control.• Perform 10 to 15 reps and then repeat on the other leg. Perform two to three sets per leg. If you find this difficult, place your raised leg on a bench for stability and move to the ball once you have developed your leg strength.• Variations – perform the exercise with only your body weight fi rst. Then add weights (dumbbells or a barbell across your shoulders) to increase the challenge.