Core Muscles, Stability and Running Performance (Recipe: Fried Rice)

I am pretty sure I have mentioned the importance of core stability and core work before.  Someone used this analogy which I thought was quite good:

“The major joints of your body—the ankles, knees, hips, etc.—are kind of like fault lines underneath the surface of the Earth. The impact of the foot against the ground during running is a bit like an earthquake. When an earthquake occurs in an area with highly unstable faults, lots of things on the surface get broken. Similarly, runners with poor joint stability have a way of getting injured.Well-conditioned core muscles are needed to keep the spine, pelvis and hips relatively stable when impact forces travel upward from the ground through the body.”

Pretty good analogy, huh?

We know that healthy running requires a strong core.  However, did you know that running in and of itself does not create a strong core? Rather to strengthen your core muscles, you need to do exercises that force key muscles to work hard.  Example: the transverse abdominis which is the deepest core muscle and wraps around the lower torso like a corset. The stability ball roll-out is one such exercise to work this muscle.

A strong core both reduces injury risk and enhances running performance!  A 2009 study by researchers at Barry University found that six weeks of core strength training significantly improved 5K race performance in a group of 28 runners!  Core exercise FTW!

So you may be asking:  How does a strong core enhance running performance? There is no concrete answer to this question.  However, some research has led us to believe that strong abs allow for a more efficient transfer of forces between the upper body and the legs during running. The upper body makes a critical contribution to power generation when you run.

Don’t believe me?  Try running with your arms pinned against your sides and feel how much harder it is.  (I totally tried after reading the article discussing this.)  A strong core creates a tighter link between the upper body and the legs.  You can improve the ability of your core to transfer forces more efficiently by including exercises such as the standing cable high-low pull.

Although running is a straight-ahead action (most of the time!), a certain amount of rotational movement of the body helps you move forward more effectively. In particular, your pelvis needs to rotate to the side as your stride opens up to allow your push-off leg to extend farther behind you. But while this happens, you want your torso to stay locked in a forward-facing position, which requires that your spine avoid rotating with your pelvis. If your spine does rotate with your pelvis, you will waste energy.  Runners with a weak core tend to exhibit wasteful trunk rotation. You can eliminate this problem by consistently doing core exercises, such as the standing trunk rotation, that challenge the abdominal muscles. Strong abdominal muscles resist rotational forces.

Let’s get down to it!

So, I forgot to mention the end of my Memorial Day weekend.  Six of us (K&T, S&B, A and me) went on a group walk around Shelley Lake.  So much fun and entertaining! I hope we do it often this summer!  And Envy and Bender hit it off!  Well, Envy loves Bender.  Bender puts up with the puppy.  He is going to help teach her the ways of the world.

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However, it did get warm.  Envy was all about getting cooled off in one of the streams.

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And then after our walk, the group went to Relish for lunch.  I thought it was super tasty.  I was way too full for dessert, but the desserts look delicious, and I’m going to have to save room next time!

You know what else?  My division provides free Panera bagels and cream cheese the last Friday of every month!  Boy was I surprised!  There are a lot of us!!  And I love me some Panera bagels!  I am totally down with this!

Quote of the Day:

“One friend is worth a thousand relatives.” -Italian proverb

So, I made this Fried Rice tonight.  I am a HUGE fan of fried rice.  I just love it.  The key (as Madame M told me) is to make sure you are using day old rice.  It makes all the difference.  And this makes like 4 or 5 meals.  Gotta love that, too!  I was also lazy and just used a bag of frozen corn, peas and carrots.  Cut a girl some slack–I’ve been busy running marathons and such!

DSC_4858 Fried Rice

Fried Rice

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cups cooked and chilled rice (I prefer short-grain white rice)
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. oyster sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil

Directions

– Heat 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until melted. Add egg, and cook until scrambled, stirring occasionally. Remove egg, and transfer to a separate plate.

– Add an additional 1 tablespoon butter to the pan and heat until melted. Add carrots, onion, peas and garlic, and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the onion and carrots are soft.

– Increase heat to high, add in the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter, and stir until melted. Immediately add the rice, soy sauce and oyster sauce (if using), and stir until combined. Continue stirring for an additional 3 minutes to fry the rice.

– Then add in the eggs and stir to combine. Add the sesame oil, stir to combine, and remove from heat.

Adapted from Gimme Some Oven

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