The core consists mainly of the torso muscles: the abdominis and the obliques. However, contrary to many people’s conception of the core simply being that much desired ‘six-pack’, there is much more to it than meets the eye. This powerhouse of muscle also includes the diaphtragm, pelvic floor, back muscles (multifidus), and the gluteus maximus.
We rarely realise what a vital role the core plays in our daily lives, from picking things up (high or low) to sitting up straight and balancing. Everyday actions can become more manageable if strength training is regularly incorporated into your exercise routine. As a person with a background in rowing, I have been taught to be aware of the core and the affect it has on your performance as an athlete; making you faster and allowing more efficient movements. Unfortunately, I have found it is not given enough attention in the athletics community. What do you think? Is it time to push the strength training more?
A strong core reduces poor posture and risk of injury, ensuring you have a stable foundation. This is because stronger core muscles will allow stronger contraction of stomach and back muscles which support the spine like a corset, helping to absorb harmful vibrations from the force of impact during high impact actions/sports like running. Improving these core muscles will also ensure a good running form by improving alignment of the pelvic floor and femurs so your balance, posture and motor control are functioning correctly.
Have you been short of breath or gettting stitches? Well, the diaphragm is a core muscle too, so the better your core fitness, the more efficiently and the longer you’ll be able to run without breathing problems due to less muscle fatigue.
There is little we do without engaging our core, so there should be an immediate change in your range of movement, balance and muscle strength once you start training those muscles. Research shows a strength training program performed 2-3 times per week can increase running economy. Pilates and core focused circuits are recommended workouts to help exercise your core, see below for an example.
For more of a challenge than the above workout, try this.
Core workouts are perfect for a rainy day, or if you’re short on time and can’t go on a long run. If you need a guide for the exercises Youtube have lots of great mini workouts to follow. Some of the best well-known channels to look up include: BeFit, Yoga Journal To Go, and FitnessBlender.