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5 Core Exercises for Runners

By Angela Jameson on 5 October 2020

I was thinking about my pilates for runners workshop and what really came through as a topic of interest to everyone that attended was the stability of your pelvis when running. So, I thought I would discuss this a little deeper for those interested.

We may know we need this but may not know how to achieve it. We often know that we should strengthen our ‘core muscles’ for running but are we doing this as effectively as we can when we are doing it and remember each rep counts!

When we run, one leg moves forward whilst the other leg moves backwards. The pelvis is what makes this happen. Without our pelvis we would not move at all.

The Pelvis is a large body structure in the middle of your body surrounded from above your core muscles and from your legs below. In order to run efficiently these muscles (your core and legs) need to work together. If your back swinging leg pulled your pelvis with it, this would result in a very unstable pelvis which would also limit the movement of the front leg. This continual tilting of the pelvis could  result in lower back pain.

In order to run efficiently you need to stabilize your pelvis when you move your legs.

Here are a few of my go-to core exercises to help stabilize the pelvis.

1. Supine – single leg foot

Starting on your back, engage pelvic floor and breathe out to lift one foot off the floor, slowly lower back down and repeat to the other leg. Think not only about lifting the foot but the transfer of load from one leg to the other leg. We are aiming for no rotation or arching of the pelvis as we perform these exercises.

2. Supine – alternating toe taps

Start supine and engage pelvic floor and breathe and lift one leg to  90 degrees followed by the other leg so both legs are starting in a table top position. Keep stomach engaged and breathe out to tap one toe to the floor and return to table top, repeat with the other leg. Avoid arching back and doming stomach. Keep pelvis stable. Repeat for about 30sec. rest and repeat.

3. Deadbug

Start supine on your back with knees at table top and arms reaching towards the ceiling. Reach right leg away from pelvis and left arm overhead. Return to start and repeat with the other side. You can add a weight like a small toning ball in the hand. Continue this for         30-60sec.

4. Scissor legs (start single leg and move to double legs if your pelvis is stable)

Start supine with both legs reaching straight up towards the ceiling. Engage pelvic floor and breathe out to lower leg towards the floor (about 45 degrees) without arching back or doming stomach. Return to start and repeat with the other leg. 30-60sec.

5. Plank with knee drops

Start on elbows and knees, slightly tuck your pelvis, squeeze your butt and engage pelvic floor. Then, lift both knees off the floor and alternatively tap right knee to floor return to straight and then left knee to floor and return to straight. Repeat for 30sec. The aim would be not to rotate your pelvis whilst knee tapping. If you are, then start on your knees and lift one knee to straight and return to floor and repeat to the other knee lifting.

All these exercises seem easy but done with a focus of keeping pelvis stable, avoiding arching and rotating can change the way your body will benefit from doing these correctly and slowly.

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