Core, core, core. Everyone seems to speak about the core being the key to improving running becoming faster and fitter. But what is all the fuss about? Is it really that important? And how do I improve my core strength?
What Is The Core?
Most people think of the core as having a 6 pack but in fact there are 29 core muscles in total.
They can easily be defined as five groups of muscles:
- The abdominals,abs or six pack
- The obliques– these are the muscles on the sides of your torso.
- The lower back–back muscles below your rib cage and above your glutes
- The glutes– your bum
- The hip flexors–muscles that connect your hips to your upper leg
When you run your limbs work separately. However, your core muscles work together allowing you to breathe. They also allow you to move your legs by performing a twisting motion. With these reasons we can treat them as a team and must train them all and not just the six pack.
Why Is The Core Important To Running?
The core is the foundation to a strong body. A strong core will help you reduce the risk of injury. Studies have linked almost all every common running injury to a weakness in the core. Have you ever worked so hard to improve your running, earn a PB and then got yourself injured? This could be down to that your core was not strong enough to support your quicker running legs thus leading to a breakdown somewhere.
A strong core helps to keep you balanced, stable and in control. However, if you don’t have a strong enough core then your legs will compensate and look to keep you balanced therefore putting more stress and strain on them. In the short term you will get quicker but in the long run you are risking injury to those legs which will inevitable slow you down. Those liking to hit the trails, it is even more important to have a strong core to support the legs.
How Do I Strengthen My Core?
Sit ups and then some more sit ups, yes? Not exactly. As we discovered earlier the core is more than just a strong six pack. You have to think of all the muscle groups and train them all. Below you will find 6 simple exercises that you can do at home or anywhere. They are simple to master, they require little time and effort and need no equipment. Try to make them part of your daily routine and you will start to see huge differences.
Start slow and gradually build it up. For example do each exercise for 10 seconds and repeat three times then when ready keep adding 2/3 seconds.
- Frontal Plank
- Lateral Plank (both sides)
- Abductor Leg Raises
- Leg Raises
- Glute Bridge
- 1 Leg squats
You can find images below
Or watch the video demo here which also gives you tips to make the exercises easier and how to progress them (look out for my dodgy tan lines and lame music choice).
These are 5 basic movements that you can start today to strengthen all areas of your core. Do let me know how you get on with these and if you ever need more advice or help get in touch and we can transform your running today and keep you running stronger, running efficient and running for many years to come.
Lateral Side Plank
Abductor Leg Raises
1 Leg Squats