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It is very important for runners to have a strong core for a variety of reasons. As we know, our core is the foundation of our body, which supports the movement of our arms and legs provided it is functioning efficiently to do so. If our core is unable to provide the stability for our limbs to move, this can lead to inadequate running technique and tissue overload. Over long distances and time, this overload can increase the risk of a running related injury.
Our lower back is the main area that we see injured due to core weakness. It is made up of five vertebrae which move in all different directions, enabling us to flex, extend, side bend and twist. Our core is supposed to provide stability to the lower back as it moves in all of these different directions. If it is not functioning properly, it cannot provide us with the muscular support that we need to move efficiently and without injury.
What are the signs of a weak core in runners?
- Reduced performance
- Poor balance
- Suboptimal running posture
- Lower back, pelvis, hip and knee pain
What are the causes of weakness in our core?
There are a number of potential causes for this type of weakness:
- Prolonged sitting at work or at home
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Performing exercises with incorrect technique at the gym or during exercise classes
- Not having enough variety in your exercise program
- Weakness post pregnancy
How do physiotherapists assess the strength and activation of core muscles?
The plank exercise is one way we can assess the strength and endurance of your core muscles in the clinic. This is one easy and reliable way to measure the function of your core and we can re-assess every few weeks to see if you are making progress with your strength and endurance. At Sydney Physio Solutions we also use Real Time Ultrasound (RTUS) to show you how to correctly engage your transverse abdominus, multifidus and other core muscles.
How do physiotherapists treat core muscle weakness in runners?
If you are suffering from core weakness as a runner, there are a number of options available for you to increase your core strength
- Clinical reformer or mat based Pilates
- Runner’s specific group rehab exercise classes
- Strength and conditioning programmes at your gym
- Core program from your physio
How do I maintain a strong and healthy core?
- Balance and stability exercises
- Maintaining good form during squats, deadlifts and lunges
- Good posture – especially when at your desk
- All types of sports
- Housework and gardening
- Maintaining a healthy level of weight