The most used four-letter word in any sport, CORE.
Your core and your abdominals are two closely related but very different muscle groups. The abdominals contribute to stability, control and endurance but your core will ensure you maintain all this and the correct posture, avoiding the injury and inefficiency that are often created by instability.
I could throw out a few scientific names now to really define core. Instead I will tell you that your core is made up of the pelvic floor and the local musculature that surrounds the spine and pelvis. Chronic back pain sufferers typically have a very weak core and un-co-ordinated muscle firing patterns between these muscle groups which leads to early fatigue that is interpreted as pain.
To strengthen the core and ensure the correct use of these muscles you need to perform a variety of abdominal exercises. The emphasis however is on the body position to ENGAGE CORE. Every abdominal exercise can be performed in such a way that the core is completely non-existent. But done correctly, maintaining the right posture, a traditional abdominal exercise will ensure the core develops and maintains activation throughout the exercise – aim of the game.
Core exercises are not about power output or weight lifted but rather endurance and control. Hence the varying body positions in the picture. If you can maintain these positions without over-compensating in any one muscle group, the core will develop to ensure total body movement control when you are running. The pelvis needs to anchor the body and ensure that the upper and lower limbs are communicating with each other correctly. Tightness, overuse or underuse of any joint or muscle will lead to incorrect activation and poor core control.
In almost every running-related injury we see a degree of weak core and in many cases it is the starting point in terms of rehabilitation and a return to sport.
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