Core Strength for Runners

What day is it? Hump day!

It’s also my Friday. Don’t you love when Wednesday is a Friday? Almost as good as when a Monday is a Friday. I’m off from work for the next 8 days while my parents are in town for Christmas. I’m envisioning sleeping in, kid free date days/nights, shopping and hanging out. Can’t wait!

Tuesday morning, I ran another marvelous mile. If feels silly to be so giddy about one measly mile but I feel like I’m on my way back. Hopefully PT Heather will give me her running stamp of approval tonight when I see her.

Speaking of running, in addition to hip strength, the primary focus in my injury recovery has been core stabilization/strength.

Side plank - happyfitmama.comPoppin’ out planks on picnic tables.

I knew that core strength was important for a runner (and everybody) in injury prevention. More and more research shows that any lower body injury (feet, ankles, knees, hips) stems from a weak core. I thought I was doing a pretty good job in training it. I did my planks and side planks daily holding each for 3-4 minutes. I worked my low back and hips 3x/week in yoga or with other exercises. So when Heather started testing my core strength and balance, I was shocked at how poorly I scored.

Here’s a simple way to test your core strength:

With bare feet, stand facing a full length mirror.  Shift your weight to your right foot. Your left food doesn’t even have to come off the ground. Watch what happens to your body.  Does your hip stick out as you shift your weight to the side? Does your entire body lean over? Do you fall over?

If any of those happen, it means that your core is tight, but not strong.  Every time you take a step your body is out of balance and you sway from side to side.  Walking is essentially a series of one-legged stands.  If you can’t stand on one leg without some part of your body sticking out to that side, you end up rocking or waddling when you walk.  A truly strong core is mobile and relaxed enough to allow you to shift your weight from side to side without all that extra unnecessary motion. The same applies with running.

When I had my videotaped gait analysis back in the early Fall, my hip shift was unbelievable. I had no idea! After seeing that, my core work was amped up big time. I needed help!

This workout includes a few of the moves that I have incorporated in my exercise routine. Do these exercise 3-4 times a week and you’ll notice a difference.

Core Strong - happyfitmama.comExercise library for exercises mentioned above:

What is your favorite core strengthener?

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50 comments on “Core Strength for Runners

  1. Oh My! Thanks so much for posting this!! I really need to do these exercises. You got me thinking about my hips way back when you originally were blogging on the topic. I have really upped my strength training and I have noticed what a HUGE difference it has made in my running. Even though I hadn’t run in three weeks, my run yesterday was strong. I am going to add these to my routine.

    PS. I have one more day before I have TWO weeks off. Have never been so giddy :-)
    Tara Newman recently posted..WIAW: What I Ate Wednesday – My Favorite ThingsMy Profile

  2. What a great resource! Thanks for sharing. I really need to incorporate more core exercises into my routine. And can I just say I LOVE that you’re sporting flip flops with your jeans & sweater in that plank pic. I wear my flops as long as possible too!

  3. Big fan of core strength and balance work. In fact, my PT put me through a series of tests the other day to see how strong my core was. He was blown away by how well I did, which makes my injury that much more confounding!

  4. Great tips–and overcoming a hip injury myself- I am doing some of the same strengthening exercises. I have found pilates a few times a week to be a good way to keep things in check and build strength- with the right form.
    Elena recently posted..Back to Running with MusicMy Profile

  5. These are great exercises and so helpful– I try to spend more time on core and balance but it seems to fall to the side too often- I’m certain it’s the reason for my setbacks and injuries… if only there was more time in the day.
    Enjoy your time off– tomorrow at 4 will begin 2 plus weeks of relaxing and SLOWING down!! I can’t wait!!!
    Laura@ Fit Running Mama recently posted..WIAW: The Giveaway VersionMy Profile

  6. Oh enjoy your time off!! And thanks for sharing these exercises. I always forget about the hip hikes. I’ve just started reading a new book calle Anatomy for Runners: Unlocking Your Athletic Potential for Health, Speed, and Injury Prevention. It’s all about imbalances. Very interesting.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..Post Race RunningMy Profile

    1. I need to check that book out. I was in complete imbalance when I first started rehabbing. I’m not perfectly balanced (who is, really?) but I’d like to think I improved at least!

    1. The test sounds so easy till you actually do it. I think the time of day matters too…at least for me. I seem to have been stabilization/balance in the middle of the day. Weird…

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  8. Thanks for sharing this again! Pinned the workout! I’m trying to focus this spring on strength, especially in my core. I’m hoping to be better prepared to train for and run my second marathon in the fall. I know a stronger core will mean stronger running.

  9. I like the superman (aka bird dog) for working on core strength. You can really feel it when you do it correctly! These are great exercises, good post!

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