What is at the core? Running core strength
Over the past ten years running core strength training has become the buzz word of the fitness world. But what exactly is your “core”? Your core consists of 29 pairs of muscles that synchronize to control the motion at your trunk. It is literally the foundation for your running machine – the control centre for running. Most core training or testing programs focus primarily on the abdominal muscles. While this is helpful, there is much more that can be done.
Problems with lack of core strength
A weak core and poor stabilisation of the pelvis can lead to your hip dropping when you hit the ground, which puts uneven stress on knees and ankles and legs. This can lead to runner’s knee without strengthening. It can also cause hip pain.
How does running core strength help you with running?
Why is core strength important for running? Well, running core strength training will improve your running times, improve your running form, improve your running efficiency, reduce your risk of injury and speed recovery. Several studies have been published over the past 8 years that demonstrate the importance of core training in both recovering from injury and improving recovery. So, if you are currently injured view this as the perfect opportunity to either start a core training program or refine the program you currently use.
How you can improve your core strength
We recommend working on improving your core strength. There are four abdominal muscle groups, which form a natural corset around the middle. They support your lower back, protects your internal organs and maintains your posture – all of which are a huge help in running. The external and internal obliques run up the sides of your body and enable you to bend to the side and twist your spine. There are a number of exercises we can recommend to improve the core and running success.
Core strength exercises
- Reverse curls: This is good for targeting the stomach muscles and building running core strength. Lie on the floor, making sure that the small of your book is pressed into the floor and not arching upwards. We recommend lying on a carpet or rug or exercise mat – to make sure it’s comfortable on the spine. Then bring your knees towards your chest and cross your feet at the ankles. Rest your hands on the floor by your sides for support. Then in a carefully controlled move, use your core stomach muscles to lift your bottom and lower back off the floor. Count to two on the way up and two on the way down. Repeat 6 or 7 times.
- Plank: This should be difficult – so don’t worry if you can only hold the position for a few seconds at first. Persevere! The steps to plank if you don’t know – are lie on the floor on your front. Keeping your elbows bent, slide your hands across the floor, rotating from the shoulders until you find a press up position either side of your chest. Curl your toes underneath you and push up off the floor with your hands, keeping your elbows soft to stop them locking, and keep head and neck relaxed. If you are able – hold this pose for 10 seconds then relax back to the floor. Build up over the weeks to increase to hold it for 30 seconds at a time – really increasing your running core strength when you can do half a minute.