The importance of core exercises for runners
Running is an activity that requires much more strength than people might be aware of. Its efficiency practically depends on the strength of the core (muscles of hips, abdomen, back, oblique and butt), which means that the runners with stronger core run with less effort and with greater ease, which means that they can run faster and longer.
Exercises that strengthen the core
- Abdominal crunches require the use of the body weight and they can be performed on single station or multi-station machines. They are done while lying on the floor or mat and with knees flexed and heels close to the buttocks. The hands are crossed over the chest and the upper part of the body then curls towards the knees slowly. The shoulder blades need to be lifted off the floor and abdominal muscles strongly contracted.
- Double crunch is also done in a lying position, but the feet need to be off of the floor and lower legs parallel to the floor. It is also important for the upper part of the legs to be at right angle to the floor. The upper part of the body is curled towards the knees until the shoulder blades are lifted off the floor, and the abdominal muscles need to be contracted as strongly as possible. Simultaneously, the lower abdominal muscles should be used to push the hips up from the floor, but it is necessary to avoid the rocking motion.
- Exercise ball abdominal crunch is another exercise that helps in strengthening the core, and the ball is used here for lying on it in a way to provide support to the lower back. Feet should be on the floor and hands crossed over the chest or used as a support to the head. Just like with normal abdominal crunches, the upper part of the body needs to be curled slowly upward and abdominal muscles contracted. Before returning to the starting position, the achieved position needs to be held for a few seconds.
- Resisted abdominal crunches are done while sitting with the back flat against the bench. The resistance should be stabilized against the front of the shoulders and then the upper body part should slowly be curled towards the knees until the shoulder blades are lifted from the bench. Here as well the abdominal muscles need to be contracted strongly and the position should be held for a moment before returning to the initial one.
With all these exercises it is important to pay attention to breathing and to breathe in on the downward portion and breathe out on the upward portion.