While running on your home treadmill, you may consider the need to avoid injuries in the back of your mind, but it’s not often a thought that comes to the forefront until you get hurt.
There a variety of reasons anÂ injury can happen from poor form to the wrong footwear, stepping funny and twisting an ankle and muscle imbalance. Another possible cause of pain could stem from not having a strong enough core, which leads to bad posture.
All of your energy comes from your center – your core – so if the muscles are weak, then your energy will be as well. Additionally, abdominal and back muscles that are not strong enough have a harder time supporting your body, which can cause you to stand improperly. Poor posture can carry into running, causing you to slouch, lean too far forward or step incorrectly and put too much stress on your lower body joints.
Because of this, it’s important to cross train with core work in addition to running sessions on your home fitness equipment. Your core encompasses the trunk of your body, so during strength workouts, it’s best to focus on your front abs, side abs (obliques) and your upper and lower back muscles.
Here are five great core exercises that will help you become a better runner:
Although it sounds like it’d be useful for cyclists, bicycle crunches work all parts of your abs (upper, lower and obliques)
- Lay on the floor with your hands behind your head, keeping your elbows in line with your ears
- Bend your right knee to 90 degrees and lift your left shoulder, and imagineÂ reaching your left armpit to your right hip
- Switch directions, bending your left knee and lifting your right shoulder off of the floor
- Repeat 20 times – 10 reps on each side
These are great for your obliques
- Start sitting on the floor with your knees bent and leanÂ back slightly until you feel your abs engage
- You can join your hands together or hold a weight at your center for an added challenge
- Rotate your hands or the weight to the right until you touch the floor, the rotate to the left
- Continue to switch side to side for 20 reps total.
- Lie on a mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground or on a stability ball for a balance challenge
- Press your feet into the floor or the ball as you squeeze your abs and glutes and lift your hips toward the ceiling
- Hold your hips as high as you can for 5 seconds, then return to the starting position
- Repeat the motion 12 to 15 times
Lying opposite arm-leg reach:
- To work your back muscles further, lie on your stomach with your hands and feet extended
- You want to keep your abs tight during this exercise to protect your lower back
- Start by lifting your right arm and left leg into the air and holdÂ it for 10 seconds, then lower
- Repeat the process with your left arm and right leg
- Continue alternating for 12 to 15 reps
- Planks are a staple core workout, and they give you a chance to focus on posture
- Begin with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips
- Push up onto your toes so you’re in a plank position
- Tighten your core muscles and hold for 30 to 60 seconds
- While holding the plank, you want your head and neck to be in line with your spine, so check to make sure your head isn’t dropping too low or held too high
- Your gaze should be in front of your fingertips
- Additionally, your back should be flat like a tabletop, so make sure you’re not arching or rounding