Ready, Steady: Balance Disc Exercises

Autumn is a good time to hit the trails or go cross-country, but rocks, roots and sharp turns challenge your coordination and stability, says Christine Mateer, a coach, physio and trail-race champion. Here’s how to prep your body.

How often?
Do these balance-disc exercises twice a week to build strength and help prevent ankle, knee and hip injuries.

You will need...
Two balance discs (£12.28 each from physique.co.uk).

Cat-cow

Why? Improves your stability and motor control on the tight turns of a trail.

How? Rest your right hand and left knee on balance discs; extend your opposite arm and leg, then bring your left elbow towards your right knee. Do 10 reps per side.

Plank and mountain climber

Why? This strengthens your hip and core muscles for a strong push-off on hills and rough terrain.

How? From the top of a press-up position, with your hands centred on the discs, lift your right knee towards your left elbow while keeping your spine and left leg straight. Hold for one second, return to a press-up position, and lift the left knee toward your right elbow. Do 10 reps.

Half-kneeling run

Why? This strengthens your upper body for a more efficient arm swing on steep trail climbs.

How? Holding light weights, kneel and place one foot on a disc, the knee of your front leg bent at 90 degrees. Pump your arms rapidly for one minute. Switch legs and repeat. 

Carioca

Why? This improves your stability and coordination to better navigate uneven offroad terrain.

How? Place your left foot on a balance disc and cross your right leg behind  you, lowering into a semi-squat. Keeping your left foot planted, do a crossover lunge forward with your right leg. Then swing your right leg back to start. (It may help to practise the move a few times without the disc.) Do 10  reps and then switch legs.