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- American Council on Exercise: Core Workout
- American Council on Exercise: Core Training for Injury Prevention
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Core Strength Training for Runners
While focusing on your running program, it is important not to neglect other forms of training, including core strength training. This type of training incorporates exercises to simulate muscle demands that are used while you run. These exercises improve the communication between your smaller muscles, such as your pelvic floor muscles, and your larger muscles, such as your pectorals and abdominals. You'll feel more support while you run when these muscles become stronger.
You've probably heard many myths regarding strength training inhibiting runners' performance. Athletes and runners have been performing these exercises for years, quite possibly not realizing that these exercises were targeting the core. Core strength training incorporates functional exercises which lead to neurological adaptations, increasing your stability, strength and mobility. Stimulating your core will allow you to accelerate and decelerate your running speed, making you a more efficient runner.
Implementing specific core strength training exercises contributes toward improving your stride length, speed and power. Core musculature is known as your body's powerhouse because it controls not only your abdominal and back musculature, but also your upper and lower body. These mechanisms directly effect your force production. Learn how to train your body as a unit -- it will help to decrease injuries and increase your overall running performance.
Incorporate core stability and strength training exercises in your running program. Select exercises that mimic your running patterns. The core strength exercises a marathon runner utilizes would be slightly different than that of a sprinter. For example, a marathon runner would complete a larger number of sets and reps for each exercise with a lighter weight, as opposed to a sprinter who would focus more on power and speed by utilizing a higher weight and fewer sets and reps.
Include stability balls, balance discs, medicine balls, wobble boards and free weights in your exercise routine to improve your core strength. Many core exercises are similar to traditional exercises, but include variations to challenge your balance, stability and strength. Some examples include push-ups on stability balls, squats on balance discs, single leg bicep curls, medicine ball wood choppers on one leg and planks. Focus on emphasizing your trunk and stabilization movements.
Determine how appropriate each core exercise is to your training goal. It is also important to pay attention to any pain or discomfort that you experience prior to implementing new exercises or during performance. If core strength exercises are not executed properly, they could hurt rather than help you.
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