A strong core is essential for all runners — it prevents common injuries while also making you stronger and faster. Your balance and strength in your legs is ultimately tied to the strength of your core which means your pelvis, hips, back and glutes can work together more efficiently and enhance proprioception. A solid core aids in maintaining correct running form, prevents lower back pain and overuse injuries associated with running.
Often times core strengthening exercises are ignored by runners. We get it; lots of times after a long run, the last thing you feel like doing is more work. However, adding some core exercises into your routine can make you a more efficient runner, and it really won’t take too much time away from your actual run. Here are five exercises you can do anywhere (at home, the gym or your hotel room) — no equipment needed.
Article courtesy of New Balance.
High/Low Plank Switches
- Start in a regular plank position with forearms flat on the floor. Make sure your core is activated. Keep your legs, glutes and back engaged to maintain proper form.
- Keeping your body in a straight line, transition to a high plank (the top of a pushup position). Start by bringing your left arm up, followed by your right. Don’t move your hips during this transition; it’s important to keep your body still and in line.
- Hold the high plank position for 3–5 seconds and then move back into the low plank in a controlled manner.
- Repeat this 20 times alternating the arm you use to push up with. Make sure to maintain the quality of the transition as you go up and down, otherwise you’ll be defeating the purpose of the exercise.
High Plank Foot Taps
- Start in a high plank (top of a pushup position). Make sure your whole body is engaged from your shoulders, core, glutes and legs. Your butt should be in line with the rest of your body — not too high or low.
- Bring your right knee into your chest and tap your left foot with your right hand. Keep the rest of your body, including your hips, still and straight as possible. Bring your left leg and right hand back into plank position and then repeat with the opposite arm and leg. This exercise should be performed with little body movement and the tap of your hand and foot should occur below your hips or torso. Do a total of 30 taps.
- Start by lying flat on your back, arms and legs straight and extended out.
- Contract your abs and lift your legs and shoulder blades off the floor. Your whole body should be engaged, including your core to maintain this position. Pull your belly button in toward the floor and point your toes and hands out. Keeping your lower back in contact with the floor, hold this position for 30 seconds.
- Lower back to the ground and repeat the hold three times. Develop the hold for longer increments of time as your core gets stronger.
- For this exercise you can use a medicine ball, dumbbell or any type of weight. If you’re at home, get creative by using a 3-liter bottle of water or something that you can easily hold that’ll provide 2–3 lbs of weight. You can also do this exercise without a weight.
- Lie on your back with your legs bent at the knee. Elevate your upper body (as if you are doing a sit-up) and hold the position when your body makes a V-shape with your thighs.
- Holding your weight in front of you in between your chest and knees, slightly lift your feet off the floor.
- Twist at your core and bring the weight with you as you turn to your right. Bring it back to center and then twist over to your left. Remember to move the weight by moving your torso, not by moving your arms.
- Continue twisting to the right, left and center in a controlled manner. Repeat 20 times for 3 sets
- Lie flat on your back with your legs straight and extended out on the floor. Keep your arms straight and by your side.
- Tuck your knees in, lift your butt off the floor and straighten your legs up toward the ceiling. Your thighs should be perpendicular to the floor.
- Bring your legs back down in the same controlled motion. Don’t use momentum to lift and lower your butt and legs. Repeat 12 times for 3 sets.