The Importance of the Core During Running
To run well and improve your performance you need to have a strong and well functioning core. It's so important that I've termed my method of running, Core Running.
What is the Core?
It's been talked a lot about over the last few years but there are still many misconceptions as to what the "core" actually is and how it works.
Technically the core is defined as the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex. Simply stated this is the area from your mid-torso down to your mid-thigh (on all sides).
The core consists of 29 muscles that attach to this region. Some of these muscles are sometimes classified into what's called the Inner Unit and the Outer Unit.
The Inner Unit
The Inner Unit or local musculature consists of the following muscles:
Transverse Abdominus -
deepest of the ab muscles. Forms an internal girdle around your midsection.
Internal Obliques -
next deepest layer of ab muscles. Helps you rotate and also control rotational forces in the torso. Also helps coordinate action between opposite upper & lower limbs.
small muscles along your spine that help with spinal stabilization.
long muscles on either side of your spine that help support the spine. Lumbar refers to the low back region.
The Outer Unit
The Outer Unit, also referred to as the global musculature, consists of these muscles:
Rectus Abdominus -
your "six pack" muscle. The outer most layer of abs and probably the least important of the group when it comes to running.
External Obliques -
lie over the internal obliques. Work in unison with the internal obliques to help with rotation as well as coordinate action between the opposing upper and lower limbs.
Erector Spinae -
a group of muscles that run along either side of the spine and support it. Attach to your pelvis via fascia.
Quadratus Lumborum -
attach the spine to the pelvis. Important for stability as well as rotation and lateral bending. Very important for runners to have healthy QL muscles.
Adductor Complex - inner thigh muscles.
Quadriceps - front of the thigh.
Hamstrings - back of the thigh.
Gluteus Maximus - butt muscles. Very important for running.
(all are muscles of the thigh that cross the hip)
One of the common misconceptions is that the core is solely your ab muscles. Looking at the list above you can see the abdominal muscles are only a small portion of the total musculature involved in the core.
All human movement originates from the core whether it be crawling, walking, running, swimming or kayaking. A well-functioning core is the base from which the rest of the body moves.
Now that you know what the core is, it should also be evident that to adequately train the core involves a lot more than just doing crunches and sit-ups. In fact, you can strengthen and develop your core without doing a single sit-up!
Importance of the Core During Running
The muscles of the core play some very important roles. Operating together as a functional unit the core enables the body to produce force, dynamically stabilize and reduce force.
The core is the bridge between the upper and lower body, left and right sides. In such a position it transfers power between these different areas to produce efficient movement. If there is a dysfunction in the core movement is inefficient and the risk of injury increases.
A well functioning core also protects the spine and provides a biomechanically efficient position to create efficient movement. Proper postural alignment, both static and dynamic, is dependent on a strong core musculature.
If the core is weak or there is an imbalance in the muscles, compensatory movement patterns and incorrect biomechanics will develop which increase improper loading on the spine and other joints. This can lead to injury, inefficient movement patterns and decreased performance.
The simplest way to describe why the core is so important is that it is the foundation upon which all movement is based. A weak foundation equals weak movement. A strong foundation equals strong movement.
For runners, a strong core is essential to run efficiently and stay injury-free. Most of runners' overuse injuries are related in some way to a dysfunction in the core musculature. So if you want to run to the best of your abilities you must make sure you core is working at its best.
|To help develop your core muscles as well as overall running strength use the Sport Shape Up Runner's Home Workout DVD's.|