Core Strength for Endurance Athletes
Updated: Jun 18, 2019
When it comes to core strength many people envision 6 pack abs and a perfect beach body. While looking good on the beach is nice, core strength is far more important than looking good. In this article we will discuss what the core muscles do, the importance of strengthening these muscles, and some simple exercises that can be done on a daily basis to enhance your exercise routine.
A nice way to think about the core muscles is all the muscles extending from your belly button to your spine. They are often referred to as the core because they are located at the center of your body and are essential for stabilizing many important structures. The abdominal muscles are the most common muscles that people think of when the core is mentioned. These muscles have many layers that extend deep into the body and help to stabilize the pelvis, spine, and protect vital organs. Moving laterally, you have internal and external oblique muscles. These muscles help with the rotation of hips, rib cage, and spine which is essential for any lower body movement. Finally, one of the most important areas for strengthening the muscles that stabilize the spine. These muscles come in a variety of shapes and sizes that work together to make sure the spine is stable. They also help flex, extend, and rotate the spine.
All of these muscles build the foundation that helps increase power, decrease the risk of injury, and improve performance. When it comes to power it is essential to have a strong foundation for your primary movers. The more stability you have in your core the more efficient you will be in any type of movement. When it comes to injury prevention, core training is often mentioned and for good reason. One study found that trunk and pelvic strength (core strength) has shown to be related to knee, hip, and low back dysfunction in athletes. Therefore, by having a stronger core you can directly decrease your risk for developing common injuries related to endurance sports. Finally core strength has been linked to running efficiency and performance. One study found that in just 8 weeks of a core strengthening program runners improved in balance, strength, and running economy. There are many other effects on endurance performance including bike power, swim speed, and rowing strength.
Now that you have some background on how important it is to strengthen the core try these four movements. These movements can be done on a daily basis and are used in all endurance activities and everyday life. For more ideas on strength training check out the new 16-week strength training routine for endurance athletes.
Plank Variations: Target muscles: abdominals and spine stabilizers Duration: Start with 30 sec holds Repeat 3x
The Bridge: Target muscles: abdominals and spine stabilizers Duration: Start with 30 sec holds Repeat 3x
Side Plank: Target muscles: lateral abdominals Duration: Start with 30 sec holds on each side Repeat 3x
Superman: Target muscles: spine stabilizers Duration: Start with 5 sec holds for 10 repetitions Repeat 3x
1.) De Blaiser, C., Roosen, P., Willems, T., Danneels, L., Bossche, L. V., & De Ridder, R. (2018). Is core stability a risk factor for lower extremity injuries in an athletic population? A systematic review. Physical therapy in sport, 30, 48-56.
2.) Hung, K. C., Chung, H. W., Yu, C. C. W., Lai, H. C., & Sun, F. H. (2019). Effects of 8-week core training on core endurance and running economy. PloS one, 14(3), e0213158.