Let’s get one thing straight. Core strength is an all-important element for runners (the six pack that comes with it is an added bonus, of course). A strong core can improve your running posture, your range of motion, your capacity to burst into speed, as well as your balance.
Because your core muscles are the bridge that join the upper and lower body, they work extra-hard when you are a runner. But the good part is that as you develop the strength in these core muscles, your running gets more and more efficient. The muscle memory inculcated through core strengthening will make your legs work in tandem with your torso. Having a strong core ultimately sets a solid foundation for endurance and improved performance when running.
For core strength and building core muscles, abdominal rollouts are one of the best workouts you can adopt. When you hit the gym next, after your warmup and initial routine, hit the ab wheel for some rollouts. If it’s your first time doing ab rollouts with the wheel, then make sure you have the right guidance to tell you the starting position and whether you are doing it right.
Get on your knees, preferably on a soft surface or mat. Grab the ab wheel with both hands and slowly roll out toward a fixed surface such as a wall. Keep your elbows straight and maintain an upright back. Roll back to your starting position. The farther you reach out with the wheel, the more difficult the exercise becomes. Initially keep it very easy and light. It’s wiser to spend weeks building up tolerance to this exercise than sitting out weeks with a bad back. Roll out to a distance that’s comfortable and sustainable for 10–12 reps only. Progress to two sets after a week of doing rollouts.
For maximum effectiveness, make sure your core is being contracted enough throughout to ensure your lower back is not sagging down. Your hips and shoulders have to be well coordinated and move at the same speed. For beginners who lack strength, this is generally not advised. Build up some experience with other core workouts and it will become less of a challenge.
Core strength leads to increased stabilization in the torso. Your core muscles are what keep your torso upright when you run, and don’t allow your body to wobble when you walk using your arms and legs. Core strength also significantly improves balance, meaning that you recover quickly from missteps small and large. Keep at it for a few months and watch your running game improve by a mile!
Main image: Fix Pelvic Tilt