29 Mar Why a strong core is important for runners
Whether you're running for fun, fitness, or to be fast, efficiency is key. You need your body to be at it's best using the right muscles and just the right amount of energy to meet your personal goal. Having a strong core plays an important part in translating the power of the legs to propelling the entire body forward through space and helps to reduce injuries that runners can be plagued by such as IT band or Anterior Cruciate Ligament issues.
While strength in your deepest abdominals is a key part of core strength, you need more than just that to support your run. To make the most from your run you need a fine balance of strength in the different areas of your core, including abdominals, spinal muscles and glutes.
The deep, transverse abdominal (TVA) muscles stabilise the lower back and pelvis by keeping it in a neutral position. Simply speaking, a strong and healthy TVA helps the body prepare for movement and the impact of movement, which results in a significant decrease in injury risk. This allows the back of the legs to push your entire body forward. Pilates exercises such as Bent Knee Fall Out isolate the TVA to allow the legs to move while maintaining stability through the pelvis and body.
The erector spinae muscles on the back support the alignment and movement of the back. When running a forward lean can place extra stress on the erector spinae muscles in the lower back, causing them to fatigue and then your running form may suffer. Strengthening the erector spinae muscles can help prevent excessive leaning at the waist towards the end of a run and combined with TVA strength will reduce the impact of this posture on your lower back. Pilates back extension exercises will develop strength in the erector spinae muscles.
The glute muscles along with the lower limb muscles of hamstrings, adductor and abductors are all crucial for runners as weakness in these areas can cause a range of running injuries such as IT band pain, patella tendonitis, piriformis issues and sciatica. Pilates exercises such as the Clam or shoulder bridge can strengthen this area and reduce the risk of injury.