3 Core Strength Secrets All Runners Should Know

Chiropractor Robert Griffiths, from Pro Performance Clinics, singles out the three best exercises to keep you injury free

3 Core Strength Secrets All Runners Should Know

Everybody knows they should be doing some form of core strength exercise for running. It helps prevent injuries like lower back pain and ITB syndrome, plus it shaves minutes off your PB without having to wear a Cathy Freeman style lycra onesie.

So why is there such confusion about how to train this mysterious body part? Firstly, the old fashioned way of thinking about the core muscles is still being taught by the media, some personal trainers and even worse, it’s being practised by the majority of the beefcakes in the free weights area of your gym.

Old school exercises that isolate body parts such as sit-ups, leg press machines and prone back extensions are considered pre-historic by any modern therapist. Instead, we now use integrated movements that train the whole body whilst making the core work in the way it was designed. The major muscles of your core act as a link between the upper and lower body, transmitting force, controlling excessive motion and maintaining upright posture.

Below I am going to teach you the basic exercises to strengthen your core. I always recommend that you perform this every time you run or go to the gym. Before we get started there are a few key points to remember whilst doing them.

  1. Breathe – Firstly, blood vessels bursting out of your forehead is not a good look. Secondly, when we run, we breathe, so make sure you are doing the same when you train your core. Otherwise you’re training your body to stabilise by holding your breath.
  2. Don’t “Hollow” – Hollowing aka sucking your belly button inwards to your spine gives you less strength than your granny. Don’t do it, even if your Pilates instructor tells you to.
  3. Don’t “Brace” – Tensing your abs into a Peter Andre style 8-pack every time you perform an exercise is not particularly relevant to running. Instead let the muscles work naturally, they will react to the demands of the exercise and become automatically stronger and quicker.
Hand to Shoulder Plank

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Hands together and feet shoulder width apart. Touch your left hand to your right shoulder, then vice versa.  Keep your pelvis level with, if you are rotating your pelvis, widen your legs or drop to your knees. 10 reps each side.

Bird Dogs
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On all fours, with hands and knees together.  Move your right arm forward and left leg back slowly. Keep your spine in neutral, if you are too wobbly, widen your knees and hands. 10 reps each side.

Mountain Climbers
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In press up position, with well aligned posture, slowly bring your right knee up to your chest and return it slowly to the start position. Repeat with the left. Make sure your back stays neutral and doesn’t round upwards. 10 Reps each side.

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Robert Griffiths

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