One of the many reasons I started running was because it was “easy”. No gym required, no equipment needed, no counting of reps or needing any prior knowledge of how to perform the “workout”… the only thing you need is a pair of running shoes (or not?).
The core is the center of the body which holds everything in place and it includes all the muscles which help you to maintain posture. These muscles are found on the abdomen, back and around your hips.
The thing about runners is that we tend to neglect strength training. Most of our time is spent logging in the miles. Over time, we develop postural and muscle imbalances. These occur between the muscles that we use all the time (lower body) and the muscles that remain idle (upper body).
Weaker muscles/muscle imbalances may force other muscles to compensate for their lack of function, leading to injury (lower back, knees) and pain.
Why It Matters
A strong core would mean that you are more likely to hold proper running form for a longer period of time. This is especially useful when it comes to distance running. Also, by strengthening these muscles, weight stress from the upper body on the legs can be evenly distributed and reduced. This will then reduce the risk of injury, allowing you to run longer and harder.
A strong core keeps you in place, preventing unnecessary swinging/swaying which goes to improve your running economy = faster times.
I am still working on my arm swing! I need to relax my shoulders, keep my elbows in and not swing my arms across my body.
It is so bad that when I race, my shoulders would start feeling the strain BEFORE my legs! I have to make it a point to tell myself to focus, relax and NOT SWING! It takes a lot of effort AND practice. As they say, practice makes perfect!
What You Need to Do
With this in mind, what you need to do next is to strengthen your CORE. Stretching and strengthening the muscles overall can restore muscle balance.
If you have ABSOLUTELY NO TIME and are EXTREMELY lazy, the plank would be your best bet. It works nearly every muscle in your body from your arms to your core right down to your legs.
-Keep your back straight
-Keep your elbows below your shoulders
-Suck your belly in, keep it tight
-Do not let your hips sink
Plank every day for 1 minute and then move on to 2, 3, 4… and see how long you can hold it without compromising on technique!
The Side Plank
I LOVE THIS!
-Keep a straight line from neck to ankles
-Do not let your hips sag
You know the drill, hold this for as long as you can while keeping proper form and technique!
Some tips to enhance your planking experience:
-Listen to music when you plank
-Set the timer and push it aside
-Read articles, Fbook, Instagram, Twitter, Chat etc while you plank to KILL TIME! (I do that all the time and it works!)
I want to know how long YOU can hold it for! What is your personal best? Do share.
Just remember: Strong core, fewer injuries, faster times and juicy ripped abs
Stay tuned for my 5 favourite full body/core workout videos!