What is the importance of your core?
Core should mean something very different to a runner. It’s not just your abs or your six-pack (or lack thereof in my case). It includes all of the muscles of the lower trunk and pelvis—not only your abs and your back, but also your hip flexors, abductors and adductors, too.
The transverse abdominis, or TVA for short, is a thin cylindrical muscle that lies underneath the abdominals. The TVA is responsible for stabilizing the spinal column and reducing lower back, hip and groin injuries. Basically, a strong and healthy transverse abdominis helps the muscles prepare for movement and brace for impact by stabilizing the muscles. This results in a significant decrease in injury risk.
The erector spinae is a group of back muscles that help you lean forward and back. A forward lean when running places extra stress on the erector spinae muscles in the lower back, which causes them to fatigue and predisposes them to injury. Strengthening these muscles can help prevent excessive leaning at the waist when you get tired at the end of a race or long run.
The abs, despite being the most well-known muscle group of the “core,” are perhaps the most unimportant when it comes to injury-free running. Sure, toned abs make you look great at the beach, but most research studies have shown that they have little actual impact on running injuries. As such, exercises, like crunches, aimed solely at strengthening the abs are likely a waste of time for runners. It stinks. I know.
The group of muscles that make up what we call the hips (adductor, abductor, gluteal and iliopsoas) are particularly important because they’ve been implicated in a range of running injuries. Ummmm, I think I’m 100% familiar with this one. Weak hips can often be the cause of IT band pain (oh, yes…), patella tendonitis (runner’s knee), piriformis issues, sciatica and a myriad of other common running injuries.
In fact, the research on how close the connection is between hip weaknesses and running injuries is overwhelming.
A study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine in 2005 found that injured runners had weaker hip flexors and hip abductors on their injured sides compared to their healthy sides. Another more specific study published in 2003 in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy found similar results: Injured runners had weaker hip abductors and hip external rotators on their injured legs.
The goal of an effective core routine for runners is one that avoids over-targeting or isolating less effective muscle groups, like the abs, and emphasizes the hips, glutes and transverse abdominis. We want it all to be strong! We all want to stay injury-free!
Quote of the Day:
“Your day will go the way the corners of your mouth turn.” -Unknown
I must say I was NOT a fan of this recipe. It was something about the sauce. It left a bad taste in my mouth and even though it made enough for two leftovers, I only ate half of one of them. And I am totally a girl who eats leftovers. All the time. It’s super easy, though! It took me a little longer than 12 minutes, but that’s because I had to cut up my chicken.
12-Minute Chicken and Broccoli
- 3 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
- salt and pepper
- 1 bunch broccoli, chopped into small florets
- 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
– Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts, and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is browned and mostly cooked through.
– While the chicken is cooking, make your sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey, cornstarch, garlic, ginger and sesame oil until combined. Set aside.
– Once the chicken is browned, add the broccoli and stir to combine. Continue cooking for an additional 3 minutes, until the broccoli is bright green. Stir in the soy sauce mixture, and cook for an additional 1 minute until the sauce has thickened.
– Remove from heat and serve immediately, garnished with toasted sesame seeds.
Courtesy of Gimme Some Oven