Your core may not be as strong as you think, and it is impacting your running.
Does having a strong core actually matter for running, and will it make me a better runner?
Absolutely! Building your core strength will have a huge impact on your running success and performance.
Often, when we consider core strength, we think purely of ‘abs’, but your core is much more than this. There are 29 pairs of muscles that make up your core, including glutes, hip flexors, shoulders, transverse abdominis, internal obliques, and pelvic floor, among others. Stabilizing your torso will have a knock-on effect on other areas and can not only help prevent injuries but also improve your performance.
If you’re a long-distance runner, you will understand fatigue and notice your running form deteriorating as you continue to run. Poor running form can slow you down and increase the effort required to move forward. Building your core will help you maintain good posture as you run. If you’re experiencing lower back pain while running, this could be a sign that you need to implement core strength exercises into your training to support your back and avoid future strain.
Improving your core stability will have a knock-on effect on surrounding areas, promoting improved alignment of your body. The lack of stability that comes with a weak core places strain on other areas of your body, such as your knees, lower back, and hips, making you vulnerable to injuries.
How can I ensure that I am targeting all the necessary areas and strengthening my core adequately to support my running?
When you think about a great core exercise, understandably, the plank will probably be the first to come to mind. It’s a fantastic and seemingly simple exercise that hits many of the areas you need to think about when trying to improve core strength. But, as with any exercise, form is everything. What may seem like a very easy exercise to complete, if done incorrectly can have detrimental effects – meaning that you are not benefiting from your hard work. Truth is, if you can comfortably hold a plank for over 2 minutes, you probably aren’t doing it correctly and your core is not as strong as you may think. It’s very likely that your core is not working its hardest, and other areas of your body are overcompensating to try keep your body up. Positioning is everything. If your hips are too low to the ground, your lower back is going to take on all the load and it also places a lot of pressure into your shoulders. Too high, and then it’s the hip flexors doing all the work and your core isn’t really engaged.
When thinking about great core exercises, understandably, the plank will probably be the first to come to mind. It’s a fantastic and seemingly simple exercise that targets many of the areas you need to improve core strength.
However, as with any exercise, form is everything. What may seem like an easy exercise to complete can have detrimental effects if done incorrectly, meaning you may not benefit from your hard work. The truth is, if you can comfortably hold a plank for over two minutes, you probably aren’t doing it correctly, and your core may not be as strong as you think. It’s very likely that other areas of your body are overcompensating to keep your body up, and your core is not working its hardest.
Positioning is everything. If your hips are too low to the ground, your lower back will take on all the load, placing a lot of pressure on your shoulders. If your hips are too high, your hip flexors will do all the work, and your core won’t be engaged.
So, what is the alternative?
Mastering the correct technique of a plank is crucial, yet challenging. You may find it difficult to maintain the position for long enough. Fortunately, we have an excellent alternative exercise that can provide similar benefits to your core while being easier to perform with proper form: the dead bug.
To do the dead bug, lie on your back and lower one arm and the opposite leg at the same time, then alternate sides. This exercise can help you develop better core control without straining your back or putting excessive pressure on your shoulders. In our latest top tip, we’ll guide you on how to execute this classic move effectively and build a stronger core.
Build your Core for Running Success