I’ve been researching and writing a Running Series for the blog and this week’s topic is Core & Hip strength for runners. You can read previous posts on Strength Training for Runners, Running Warm Ups, Running Cool Downs, and Returning to Running Postnatally here.
Runners require a high level of core and hip stability to improve their performance, as well as reduce injury. The trunk and core are the powerhouse of your running. The legs get their driving force from the gluteal (buttock) muscles, which are primarily responsible for hip extension; the movement that propels you forwards in your run and absorbs the ground reaction force as you strike the ground. The core muscles transfer the forces required through the trunk and connects the upper and lower limbs, with the arms being used to drive you forwards and coordinate your trunk mobility with the legs.
A 20% reduction in core muscle strength was found to increase the load on the rotator cuff (shoulder) muscles by 80% in upper limb tasks. This could also be reflected in lower limb tasks, suggesting any deficit in core strength could increase the load demanded of the legs and potentially lead to injury, or a reduction in performance.
Performing a regular core and hip strengthening workout using Pilates methods may improve your running performance, and reduce the likelihood of injury collectively by enhancing your strength and your biomechanics!
Here are some running-specific core and hip strengthening exercises you can incorporate in to your training schedule. As per the Strength Training for Runners guidelines, these would be best performed AFTER your runs rather than before to ensure no detriment to run performance.
Core exercises for running:
For each exercise, bring your pelvis and spine in to neutral position (neither tilted forwards or backwards) and engage your core before you begin the exercise.
Float one leg up to 90 degrees. As you lower this foot down to the mat, simultaneously float the opposite leg upwards. Continue alternating legs so they are continuously moving in opposition.
One leg stretch L5
Bring each knee up to 90 degrees individually. Float your head and shoulders upwards and reach the arms out to one leg. Extend the opposite leg outwards. As this leg returns, extend the other leg outward.
Double leg stretch L5
Bring each knee up to 90 degrees individually. Float your head and shoulders upwards. Raise both arms up above your head. Extend one leg away from you and simultaneously float both arms over your head. Bring the leg back and the arms at the same time and switch legs.
Have both knees at 90degrees and your head and shoulders raised with hands behind your head. Rotate the upper body towards the opposite knee and simultaneously extend the opposite leg.
Side bend with leg lift
Come up in to a side plank position and at the same time open the top knee towards the ceiling.
Hip exercises for running:
Lift up in to the bridge position. Extend one leg outwards. Lower this leg down to parallel with your other thigh, then back up again for 6 reps. then switch sides.
Extend the opposite arm and leg away from each other, keeping the trunk ready. Switch sides.
Side kick L2
Extend the top leg. Glide this leg forwards as far as able, and then backwards. Keep the leg at hip height throughout and continue moving back and fore.
Side kick in kneeling
Begin in the start position. Glide the top leg forwards as far as you canc control without deviating from your trunk position, then backwards. Keep the leg height and continue moving back and fore.
Let me know if you give any a try and which ones are your favourite?!