Runners know how important it is to have a strong core to run with a proper form and avoid getting injured. Without a strong core, runners can’t run as fast or strong as they could with strong abdominals, lower back and glutes. These muscles provide stability, power and endurance that runners need to run faster, strongly uphill, fast downhill, improve endurance and reduce fatigue. When your core is strong, everything else will connect, muscles and movements will follow. Core is the foundation for all your movements, for all running levels. Quality core exercises are not easy, but a 15 minute core workout 2-3 times per week (4-5 exercises, 2 sets, 1 minute each) is a great investment that will give you all the benefits of being stronger, more balanced and protecting you from running injuries. Focus on the quality of the exercise, not the speed.
Training Mistakes to Avoid:
Don’t focus on basic crunches that don’t strengthen and work on the deep core muscles that provide strength and stability. Include all types of core exercises to balance the muscle strengthening.
Don’t sink into the same routine, mix it up, vary the exercises regularly to strengthen and balance all the muscles.
Don’t fly through your workout, don’t rush your exercises, focus on the form and movement to trigger all the proper muscles and even reassess your form halfway through the exercise to re-engage the muscles.
Don’t forget about your lower back. The lower back is often out of sight, you can’t see the form while training or running. Try to target and build up your lower back, when performing bridges, planks, superman, make sure you don’t arch your lower back. Occasionally, try to do some core exercises in front of a mirror to evaluate your form.
Basic Core Exercises:
Planks (Transversus Abdominis, Lower Back, Glutes)- Low Plank, Side Plank, Low Plank Leg-Lift, Side Plank Hip Dip, High Plank Rotation.
Bridge (Glutes and Hamstrings)- Basic Bridge, Single Leg Bridge, Single-Leg Bridge on Heels, Single-Leg Bridge with Mini Resistance Band
Superman (Transversus Abdominis, Lower Back)- Basic Superman, lift both arms and legs at the same time. Superman Swimmer, lift opposite arm and leg. Superman Row, lift torso and legs and pull arms back.
Squats (Glutes, Lower Back, Abdominals)- Basic Squat, Sumo Squat, Lateral Walking Squat with Mini Resistance Band, Single Leg Squat, Single Leg Deadlift.
Lunges (Glutes, Lower Back, Abdominals)- Forward Lunge, Reverse Lunge, Lateral Lunge, Lunge Pulses.
Abdominals (Transversus Abdominis, Rectus and Lower Rectus Abdominis, External Oblique)- V-Sits, Russian Twists, Crunch Up Toe Tap, Crunch Up Hug your Knees, Reverse Crunches Upward Leg Kicks, Diamond Crunches Toe Tap.
Core Muscles that are triggered during different running movements
Speed Running- When you increase your speed, cadence, pick up your speed, your lower abs, lower back and glutes are the main core and stable muscles required for more force when pushing off the ground, and generate power.
Uphill- If you have a strong core running uphill, your legs will have a more stable plane of motion to power up the ascent. As you push off the ground uphill, your glutes and hamstrings are engaged. To save your hamstrings, your glutes need to be strong.
Downhill- Running downhill involves a lot of impact. Without a strong core your quads and knee joints will bear the impact and extra pounding, which can lead to pain and knee injury. The glutes need to be strong to absorb the impact and counter the momentum of the forward motion.
Endurance- When running long-distance, your body gets tired, you start feeling fatigue and muscle imbalance. A weak core can put too much stress on your hips, knees and shins. During long endurance runs, your lower back and lower abdominal muscles are triggered and need to be strong.
Lateral Movement- During a run, whenever you have to suddenly move to the side, your oblique muscles are triggered if they are strong. If your core is weak, you might lean into a movement which will put excess weight and strain on joints, feet and legs.
Strong Core, Strong Runner, Healthy Body!