Core Exercises | The benefits for Runners
Core exercises can sometimes get overlooked by many people who take on a running challenge or simply take up running as an activity to improve health. A solId foundation of core strength has many benefits and this includes benefits for runners. On a basic level incorporating core exercises can benefit running posture, improve speed and reduce lower back fatigue during longer runs. Lets just say having a strong core is ESSENTIAL.
Performing core exercises in your weekly training plan will set a solid foundation of strength that will play an integral role in improving your running performance. At the end of this article I give you exercises that will target specific muscle groups. By working your core you will increase your stabilisation, minimising any unnecessary rocking which in turn will mean you reduce your overall energy expenditure.
What you may not realise is that having a strong core can also help with balance enabling you to recover and become more efficient at running over uneven ground.
The benefits at a glance:
- Improved posture
- Lowers risk of back pain or injury
- Improves energy conservation
- Improves balance
For good core strength it’s important that you hit all of the muscles in the core area. Just doing sit ups and leg raises wont cut it. The core is be made up of as many as 35 different muscles! I’ll separate these muscles into different sections and target the areas with different exercises to provide a comprehensive core workout programme. Lets look at the muscles you need to target and break them down into 4 different areas.
- Back extensors are attached at the back of the spine. These muscles allow us to lift and stand.
- Abdominals are the muscles located at the anterior (front) of the core. Allowing the body to flex forward.
- Lateral abdominal muscles are positioned laterally (to the side) of the body and allow us to rotate and side bend.
- Hip muscles these muscles can be located deep within the pelvis and muscles attaching to the front and side part of your leg.
Here are 8 exercises you can incorporate to strengthen all 4 of these areas.
Bridge and Superman’s to target the Back Extensors
Hanging Leg Raises and Swiss Ball Crunches to target the Anterior Abdominals
Side Plank and Russian Twist to target Lateral abdominals
Trx Plank Pikes and Resistance Band Monster Walks to target the Hip Muscles
For best results its important to maintain correct posture throughout and focus on “engaging the core” muscles. Slow and steady will produce much better results keeping the time under tension at a maximum to improve strength and endurance.
Tips to engage your core. Focus on tightening your abdominal region – draw in your lower ab’s with the aim of bringing up your belly button towards your ribcage. Try to bring in the sides of your abdominals by squeezing them towards the centre but also in an upward motion. ALSO don’t forget to maintain steady breathing!
For more tips on how to improve your running read my Strength and Conditioning for runners article HERE. Want to improve your speed? Read my Tips to improve your running speed HERE