Runners now know how important it is to have a strong core. Fortunately, proper core training doesn’t require too much time, you can do core exercises for 15 mins 3 to 4/ week to see some improvement. We need to focus on the quality of the core exercises. Having a strong core is so important, the stronger your core the better your running form and less chances of injuries. The core muscles include the abdominals, the glutes and lower back. These muscles provide the stability, power and endurance that runners need to power up the hills, sprint to the finish line and maintain a proper running form kms after kms. When your core is strong, everything else will follow. A strong core is the foundation for all the running motions for every level of runners; elite to recreational.
Which core muscles need to get engaged for different running techniques:
Speed training– Once you start increasing your cadence and foot turnover when picking up your speed, the lower abs and lower back are triggered. The stronger and more stable these muscles are, the more force and power you will have when pushing off the ground.
Uphill running– With a stronger core, when running uphill, your legs will have a more stable plane of motion for a more powerful ascent. When you swing your legs forward and up, your abdominals need to be strong to help your hips flexors pull on the pelvis and pushing off the ground, the glutes need to get engaged to help the hamstrings.
Downhill– Running downhill, you need strong gluteal muscles to help absorb the impact and manage the momentum of the forward motion. With a weak core, on the downhill, the quads, knee joints have to bear the extra pounding of the bodyweight. This will lead to more muscle fatigue, pain and serious knee injuries.
Endurance running– For long endurance runs, we need a strong core to help maintain a proper running form once we start to get tired. With strong lower abs and lower-back muscles, it’s easier to keep a more upright form otherwise we start to hunch over and affect our proper running form. A weak core will put extra stress on the hips, knees and shins.
Lateral movements– For trail runners, running on technical terrains, our body keeps moving in different ways including lateral movements. When suddenly moving to the side we need strong obliques to provide stability and help support the torso. With a weak core, we may end up leaning into the lateral movement, which will put extra weight and strain on the joints in the legs and feet.
Basic Core Exercises:
High Plank– Hold for 1 min- 3 sets
Low Side Plank (High Side Plank- Harder)- Hold 30 secs each side- 3 sets
Superman– 1 min- 3 sets
Single Leg Bridge– 30 secs each side- 3 sets
V-Sit & Russian Twist– 30 secs each- 3 sets
Train Hard, Eat Right, and Feel Great!