“Core Conditioning for Runners”
Dr. Jim Forbes D.C.
It has been estimated that up to 70% of runners have an injury in any given year. It is worth noting that most running injuries are repetitive overuse injuries. This means that we have stressed a part of our body too much during a run and did not give it enough time to heal before the next run. Sadly, many runners do no form of strength training which help can strengthen the proper muscles to withstand the repetitive pressures of running. The first step to build a body which can withstand injury during running is to train the muscles of your core then strengthen the leg muscles. This principle is called “core to floor” training which relies on a stronger core to eventually build stronger legs. To determine what exercises are right for you consult your fitness professional or personal trainer.
Role of Strength Training For Runners
Earlier in the article we spoke about training errors, which means that someone runs too much, too quickly and or too soon without giving tissues enough time to heal this leading to injury. For this reason, it is wise to replace 25% of your normal running schedule with strength training. Usually, the first response I receive is “I can’t do that, I will lose all the progress I have made!”. Actually, current research has shown that if runners perform the correct exercises they can run more efficiently and run with less energy which transfers into speed, distance, and time improvements. Strength training should begin with an emphasis on building a more stable core prior-to focusing on leg strengthening. Refer to the article “Strength Training for Runners” for tips to build smarter, stronger legs.
This has been a popular term in exercise circles for years now. Everyone says they want to work their core, or “I do a lot of core exercises.” Unfortunately, most people do not perform core exercises correctly. The goal with core exercises is to train efficient movements not muscles. This can be transferred into running very easily as teh running stride is a full body activity that benefits from more efficient movements.
Step 1: Learn How to Contract Your Core
Most people think that contracting your core means doing a sit up. However, there are 29 pairs of muscles in your core and they require specific focus to contract. As well, they must be contracted independently of your regular breathing patterns. To learn how to do this, lay on your back and pretend like someone is going to punch you in the stomach (draw your belly button inwards). Now, do this while maintaining your regular breathing patterns. It sounds easy, but it is actually quite challenging. This is a pre requisite for all of the following exercises and should be done through the completion of all the exercises below.
Step 2: Contract Your Core While Moving Arms & Legs
Dead Bug Exercise
Follow the same steps from above, now try and touch your hand to your opposite knee while maintaining this core contraction and while breathing normally. Move arms and legs slowly (take 2 breaths to touch hand to knee).
This exercise focuses on hip extension (bringing leg back) while maintaining a core contraction and a neutral low back. Be sure not to dip or twist your pelvis while straightening the arm and the opposite leg.
Focus on hip extension at the buttock with the gluteal muscles and ensure you keep a neutral low back. As mentioned above, keep that core contraction while maintaining your normal breathing patterns.
This exercise is very straightforward. Remember to keep that core contraction and time yourself to see how long you can hold this position while breathing normally.
With these 4 exercises you can work to gaining more control over your core and facilitating more efficient running movements while avoiding injury. Remember, up to 70% of runners will suffer an injury in a given year, build a stronger core and make sure that you’re not one of them. Consult your fitness professional or personal trainer for more great ways to build a stronger core. Refer to the next article “Strength Training For Runners” to see what you can do for your legs to help prevent running injuries.
Dr. Jim Forbes
Chiropractor, ART & Medical Acupuncture Provider
Hare Chiropractic and Natural Health Centre
1389 Colborne Rd. Sarnia
519 332 4222