Quick and Effective Core Strengthening Exercises for Runners

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2016 YMCA Turkey Trot

Having a strong core is important for runners. Contrary to popular belief, core strength is not just about having six pack abs. Your lower back, pelvis, and trunk are supported by many muscles that lie deep within your midsection. Having strength in these muscles is key when it comes to reducing injury risk while running.

When we run, our body is subjected to roughly three times our body weight at every step. When we push the ground, the ground pushes back. Our muscles must be prepped and ready to absorb these forces in order to protect our joints. For optimal results, you must recognize that everything begins and ends with your core.

“You can’t build a skyscraper on a jello mold.”

In order to build a strong structure, you need a solid foundation. Think of your trunk as the foundation with your legs as the structures. Hip, knee, and ankle strength don’t mean anything without a strong and stable base. Here comes the million dollar question, “How can you efficiently and effectively strengthen a runner’s core?”

Training your core muscles through run-specific exercises is key. This does not include countless sit-ups and crunches. Think about it, how often do you have to do a “sit up” while going for a run? (Hint: The answer is never). You want to strengthen your core muscles in a way that carries over to the demands they will be subjected to while running – focus on strengthening muscles that matter.

Lower abdominal strength is especially important for runners. With every propulsion of your body forward, your leg extends backward. This backward force by the glutes is controlled and stabilized by the lower abdominal muscles. Without the lower abdominal muscles controlling that backward motion, the spine will get yanked around (red flag alert: injury looming).

The core also encompasses the hip muscles. For runners, lateral hip muscles (side of hips), tend to be weak. Weak lateral hips can lead to poor control of excessive side to side movements which occur while absorbing impact of the ground. The research is in; strong hips and core muscles decrease risk of running related injuries (1). Want to know which exercises will be the most effective for you?

Check out the video below!

References
1. Leetun D, Ireland ML, Willson J, Ballantyne B, Davis IM. Core Stability Measures as Risk Factors for Lower Extremity Injury in Athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 36(6):926-934, 2004.

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