Importance of Core Strength

Everyone says that core strength training is important to a runner’s training… but why? Well, here’s the scoop.

Core strength is not only important as cross-training while you are running, but it is also vital to a strong, balanced, and supportive spine. The glutes, abdominals, and hip muscles all constitute the core, so we have to find core exercises that work all of these muscles and components for a supportive system for our spines.

Essentially, everything is connected. The core muscles are connected to your legs, which help support the way you sit, stand and squat. Your abdominals enclose and surround your spine and lower back, and your hip muscles connect these together.

Benefits from a strong core include reduced back pain, improvement in athletic performance, and enhancement for your posture.  These five core strengthening exercises will help train you back, your glutes, and the entire area that supports your lower back and spine.

The Plank
This engages all muscles of the core.  Be sure that your back is straight and your abdominals, butt, and thighs are engaged. *To increase difficulty, alternate lifting one arm and the opposite leg for 10 secs. Repeat on other side. 

Side Plank
Helps increase lateral hip strength and stability.  Be sure your hips are aligned and parallel to the ground, while also forming a straight light from your ankles to your shoulders. *To increase difficulty, lift top leg up a few inches for 10 secs. 

When done correctly, this exercise helps strengthen your rectus abdominis, external obliques and internal obliques. *Be sure your abdominals are contracted, drawing you bellybutton into your spine, with your back and spine straight. Your legs can either be straight up at a 45 degree angle or bent at the knees.  Reach your arms straight forward towards your shins, hold, then return to your beginning position.

Bicycle Crunch
This is one of the best exercises for the rectus abdominals and obliques. Balance on your sit bones and reach your right elbow to your left knee, repeat with your left elbow to your left knee. *Do not try to pull your head and neck with your hands, but use your abdominals and legs to pull your knees and chest up, having your elbow meet the opposite knee. 

Bridge Pose and Single-Leg Bridge
Bridge pose is a common yoga pose that improves core and spinal stabilization. The pose isolates and strengthens the gluteus (butt) muscles and the hamstrings. *Hold for 15-60 seconds while maintaining control. Try lifting one leg parallel to the ground and hold that pose for 30 seconds. 

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