Core Strength Can Support Joint Health, Muscle, Running Strength and Lifespan.
We use and need our core for everyday activities without even thinking about it. Whenever we run, walk, bend, twist, sit down, stand up, or just move, we use our core. Our core supports our whole body like a trunk of a tree, as it connects our upper and lower body. And the strength of the core even determines how well our arms and legs move.
Generally, a weak core is associated with lower back pain and bad posture. But for runners, a weak core can cause more problems. It will affect our running form, which will cause muscle and joint pain and misalignment.
Poor pelvic stabilization often causes knee problems. Weak hip muscles cause hips to dip too low while running. Since a weak core can’t handle the landing shock while running, some runners develop neck and back pain. Other muscles have to compensate for the weak core muscles, this causes the runner to run with a bad running technique. As a result, we will be less energy efficient and more likely to get muscles and joints injuries.
The importance of a strong core is crucial. If we have been active, the chances are our core is going to be strong enough, at least according to the type of activities we’ve been performing. Since we know that running is quite a challenging activity, we should make sure that we have a strong core.
Unfortunately, most people (including runners) pay attention to only abdominal muscles (six-pack abs), ignoring the rest of the core. It’s important to understand that our core is made up of several muscle groups:
Lower back muscles
All these muscles work together to stabilize our body when we run or perform any activity. Working only on abdominal muscles can create muscular imbalance, which we don’t want.
The good news is that strengthening our core isn’t hard, if we keep running or doing other types of training (strength training), our core strength will improve. Also, we can add and perform some core-specific exercises into our routine. And the best part is, these exercises are easy to incorporate into our training as they can be done without any special equipment, at home, outdoors, gyms etc…
If you have a weak core, back pain or any other problem, you should seek help from a professional physio therapist, who will assess your problem and recommend specific exercises that will fix your problem. If you are planning to start performing core exercises, and your core is not very strong, start with the basic core exercises first, don’t attempt hard ones only because they look cool.
Focus on the correct technique. Performing these exercises with correct form is more important than the number of reps or duration. For example, if you can’t hold a plank for one minute, start with twenty seconds. Slowly increase the duration when a 20 secs. plank feels easy. You don’t have to torture yourself every single time as it makes the workout unenjoyable, it can affect the core muscles negatively and it might not be very motivating. Once you start feeling your core getting stronger and better, add more core exercises and hold for up to 1 minute. Try to breathe normally throughout the exercises, which will support the strength and energy level.
How Much Time Should We Spend on Core Exercises?
Most runners run a lot and sometimes they barely have time to perform any additional workouts. The good thing is, you don’t have to spend a lot of time on core exercises to get the benefits. Performing core workouts 2-3 times/week is sufficient.
You can either perform a core routine separately or include a couple of core exercises into your strength routine.
Strengthen Your Core, Improve Your Running Form, Feel Great and Run Strong!