An Analysis Of Why Your Core Is A Vital Component Of Your Running

core muscles

As simple as running may seem, it does come with certain fundamentals that you simply can’t overlook.

One of those fundamentals is the importance of having an efficient core. Much like a good pair of running shoes is guaranteed to give you a good running experience, an inefficient core is guaranteed to make your running thoroughly enjoyable.

Having run over 50 Marathons, 15 Ultra-Marathons and 3 Comrades Marathons, I can safely say that the core is the most important foundation to your structural (body framework) running.

Why is the core so important?

To answer this, I’ll take you through:

  • A description of the core
  • The functionality of your core
  • 6 benefits of a strong core

What is the Core?

The core is defined as the muscular anatomy that controls and supports the spine and pelvis.

The muscles of the abdominal region that control and support the spine and pelvis include:

  • Internal and External Obliques which rotate the torso from side to side and bends the torso to the side
  • Rectus Abdominus flexes the torso (commonly referred to as the “six pack”
  • Transverse Abdominus stabilizes the spine to prevent excessive motion in any direction

Some of the muscles of the back region that control and support the spine and pelvis include:

  • Erector Spinae that run along each side of the spine and extends the torso
  • Quadratus Lumborum, like the Obliques, bends the torso to the side and controls the hiking motion of the hip
  • Multifidus muscles are as extremely important as the Transverse Abdominus muscles as they too stabilize the spine to prevent excessive motion in any direction as the bigger muscles move the trunk and pelvis

core muscles

As you can note from the above diagram, the core extends to your Glutes.

What is the function of your core when you run?

Generally speaking, core muscles as a group are arguably the most important strength and stability generators in the body, since they contract every time we move.

When we stand up, sit down, raise an arm, or even move our fingers, elements of the core tighten in order to anchor the body, generate leverage and drive the motion forward.

As we build core strength with a regular program of core exercises, this automatic contraction happens faster and with greater intensity. When core strength is at optimal levels, almost every motion of the body naturally tightens the muscles around the base of the spine. This means the spine stays automatically aligned, supported, and stabilized. So when we walk, run, breathe, or even sleep, our spine provides a strong  anchor for the rest of the body.

In terms of running, the kinetic energy to propel and sustain our bodies in motion needs to travel through our core.

Think about your running motion for a second. When running, the following happens:

  • Your foot makes contact with the ground
  • Your energy is then transferred to the hamstring
  • From the hamstring, it moves through to your core
  • In your core, a pelvic rotation occurs and this enables you to swing the opposite leg forward so you can make contact with the ground using you other foot

Throughout this entire motion, the primary function of the core is to ensure that all body parts receive their appropriate share of kinetic energy. In the process, the movement of your limbs becomes effective and efficient.

6 Benefits Of A Strong Core

Now that we’ve had a look at the function of the core, let’s extract some benefits from a running perspective.

1. Improves running posture: Your core muscles – the chest, back, abs, and obliques – are what keep your torso upright when you run. As a result, effective core training increases stability in the torso (trunk of your body) and reduces erratic, wobbly movement of your arms and legs when your run.

2. Improves breathing: breathing is a vital component of your running. The diaphragm (main breathing muscle) improves in functionality through core exercises

3. Increases speed: Your arms and legs work in tandem with you core at all times. As a result any quick or strong movements generated through your legs and arms are directly linked to the efficient functioning of the core.

4. Improves balance: enables you to re-act quickly to any missteps

5. Conserves energy: happens primarily because your pelvis, hips and lower back work together smoothly. In addition, because of efficient breathing, your running economy is much better

6. Enhances injury prevention: your lungs and heart (the engine of your running) often adapt quicker to cater for your running. Your body on the other hand takes slightly longer. Core training thus assists greatly in the development of your structural (body framework) running. In addition, if you are a long distance runner, the breakdown of your running form is delayed when you are fatigued. This delay helps significantly in reducing pain in your lower back and preventing common running injuries.

In my many years of running, I can now tell at the blink of an eye if a runner exercises their core or not. In fact, in Free Training Material, I give you access to a report I call “The 8 Laws Of Successful Distance Running”. In that report, I highlight the importance of core training.

For many runners, core exercises are neglected.

Why? Because they are difficult exercises to contend with. However, the benefits of training your core muscles far outweighs any amount of pain you’ll ever endure.

I hope this article has been of great use.

May you continue to enjoy your running.

God Bless!

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