Running: core strength

As runners, we tend to focus on building stronger legs, heart, and lungs but we too often forget core muscles. If you think your “core” is just your abs – you’re very wrong. It includes everything from your hips and glutes to your lower back. A good core routine will work all of these muscles to help you to improve your running posture and speed.

The biggest benefit of core strength for runners is increasing stabilization in the torso. Your core muscles – the chest, back, abs, and obliques – are what keep your torso upright when you run, and reduce bouncing when moving your legs and arms. When running, core strength allows the pelvis, hips, and lower back to work together more smoothly, with less rocking, that allows you to be a more economical runner. Core strength also significantly improves balance, meaning that you recover quickly from missteps, specially in a trail running. A strong core is very important for a long distance runners. Towards the end of long runs or races, when you are extremely fatigued, your form begins to suffer. Poor form not only slows you down, but it also opens you up to potential injuries. That’s why core training is vital for runners.

All these bodyweight exercises are designed to help you develop a strong and stable core. Spend 30-60 sec (depending on your fitness level) on each exercise. Rest for 15 seconds before moving to the next one. After completing all four, take a 3- to 5-minute break, and repeat the entire series. While doing each exercise, move slowly, and aim for total control. If you get tired and lose form, stop for the day. It’s more important to maintain quality than quantity. Try to do this routine two-three times a week.

Bird-dog

 

Bird-dog-core-strength

  • Remain on all fours and tighten your abdominal muscles.
  • Keeping your spine and neck in a neutral position.
  • Looking slightly forward.
  • Slowly extend your left leg behind you while reaching your right arm forward.
  • Keep your hips and shoulders square and make sure your lower back doesn’t arch.
  • Focus on extending your arm forward and leg – backward. Feel a stretch in your body. Do not raise arm and leg over your head.
  • Hold for couple breaths. Slowly return to the starting position and do the move on the opposite side.

Click here to see muscles involved, “Bird-Dog” variations for advanced users, common mistakes and more.

Glute bridge

 

Glute_bridge_core_strength_runners

  • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Keep the abdominals engaged and lift your hips up off the floor. Press your heels into the floor for added stability.
  • Gradually progress this exercise by starting with both feet together and extending one leg while in the raised position.
  • Avoid arching your low back as you press your hips upward.

Click here to see muscles involved, “Glute-Bridge” variations, common mistakes and tips.

Lunge

lunge_core_strength_running

 

  • Stand in a natural position.
  • Step forward, gliding your foot along the ground until your heel touches a few feet in front of you.
  • Bend your front and rear legs, lowering down until your rear knee is about 1 inch above the floor.
  • Hold for a 2-3 seconds, come back to natural position and change your leg.
  • Keep your knees, hips and shoulders all facing in the same direction — forward.
  • Your front heal should be directly below the middle of your knee.
  • Keep your back straight.

Plank

 

runners_core_strength_plank

 

  • Keep your legs straight and slightly apart
  • Keep a straight line with your body
  • Keep a flat upper back with your shoulder
  • Keep elbows in a straight line with your shoulders
  • Keep your head in a line with your back
  • Keep your hands slightly apart.
  • Focus to hold a straight body from your toast to the head.
  • If you feel like elbow plank is too easy for you, then you can add a superman or reverse plank.

    Warrior III

core-strength-stability-warrior-III

 

  • Stay tall
  • Hands comes to the waist line
  • Step the right foot a foot lengths forward and shift all of your weight onto this leg.
  • Lift your left food back as you lean your torso forward. As your leg lifts higher, your torso moves the equal distance forward.
  • Look down at the floor
  • Reach your fingertips forward, palms facing each other
  • Breathe and hold for 2-6 breaths.
  • To release: slowly bring your back food down and release the arms
  • Repeat on the other side.

Here are some more great running tips

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