Through my time working with countless runners, I have learned that runner’s care about many things… How many miles they can do this week, what they get to eat after their long runs, chasing down their next PR, what shoes to wear, and the list goes on and on. Caring about core strength, however, is not on high (or even on) the list. Runner’s, we need to treat our core’s better! In this article, I will cover
- What exactly is our core?
- Why a strong core is important for running
- Show you three of my favorite running-specific core exercises
It’s all about the core, but what exactly is “our core”?
In essence, our ‘‘core’’ is made up of our abdominal muscles in the front, back extensors and hip muscles in the back, with the diaphragm at the top and pelvic floor on the bottom. The core is comprised of a whole host of muscles that aim to stabilize the spine and pelvis to allow for a strong foundation of force production through your arms and legs (1). When the system works optimally, it results in a solid foundation for all other movements. It is important to note, that our core doesn’t really want to move, its job is to remain still and STABLE to allow other things to move well (this fun fact will come in handy shortly).
We now know what the core is, but why is it important?
Core stability increases the maximal power and efficiency in your legs and arms (1). Improved force output, coupled with less energy leakage (compensatory movements from core weakness) can lead to faster sprints and longer runs! A study of 28 runner’s who completed six weeks of core stability training improved their 5K time by an average of 47 seconds! (2). However, not all “core” exercises are created equal. Your strength training should be “ running specific.” Performing swiss ball strengthening exercises has been shown to increase one’s abdominal muscle strength, however, this did not translate into improved running performance (3). The swiss ball exercises didn’t help running performance because the exercises were too different from what is needed for running.
In summary, adding running-specific core stability exercises are a must for all runner’s, regardless of ability. To get the most benefit from your strength workouts, make sure they are “run specific.” What are runner specific core exercises? I thought you’d never ask.
Check out this video for step by step instructions of three of my favorites.
Watch this video to learn more:
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- Fredericson, Michael, and Tammara Moore. “Muscular Balance, Core Stability, and Injury Prevention for Middle- and Long-Distance Runners.” Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America, vol. 16, no. 3, 2005, pp. 669–689., doi:10.1016/j.pmr.2005.03.001.
- Sato, Kimitake, and Monique Mokha. “Does Core Strength Training Influence Running Kinetics, Lower-Extremity Stability, and 5000-m Performance in Runners?” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 23, no. 1, 2009, pp. 133–140., doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e31818eb0c5.
- Willardson, Jeffrey M. “Core Stability Training: Applications to Sports Conditioning Programs.” The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 21, no. 3, 2007, p. 979., doi:10.1519/r-20255.1