Core Exercises for the Runner

by Devin Blessing, DPT, OCS >> Request an Appointment

If you’re a runner, you have definitely been told before that a strong core will help you become a stronger, healthier runner. The struggle most runners have is finding the time to incorporate core exercises into your existing program. To understand the most efficient way to do this, we need to go over a few key concepts.

When training the core, I refer to different planes of motion (ie. anterior core, lateral core, transverse core) instead of talking about specific muscles to train.

The lateral core controls side to side motions, which is huge in running. Every time your foot hits the ground, your lateral core works to keep your trunk upright, pelvis from dropping and knee from collapsing in. The side plank with leg swing is a great way to train the lateral core. When that gets easy, step your game up by putting your feet on a bosu to add an additional stability challenge.

The transverse core works to control rotational movements. If your transverse core is not working efficiently, you will see too much rotational motion in your running pattern through your trunk, knees and feet, leading to poor efficiency and potential injury. The thread the needle plank is one of my favorite exercises to train the transverse core. Work on moving slowly and controlling the rotation through your trunk and hips.

The anterior core works to control front-to-back movements. In running, if you are not using your anterior core efficiently you will tend to overextend in your back which can lead to back pain or over-striding that can result in knee pain. The plank is the most common anterior core exercise people will use. Try adding an additional stability challenge to your planks by doing the stir the pot exercise.

Try these out and let us know what you think in the comments section! And for some comparisons to help demonstrate why a strong core will lessen lower back, hip and knee pain and help improve overall performance, check out our post: Fix Your Core, Fix Your Running Stride.

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