So you want to improve this year right? You wrote down all your goals for 2017 and you are doing your best to begin working on them and conquering them.
I’m with you. I have been a runner for about 4 years now and I must say I really haven’t had the drive to seriously improve until this year. Now I want to cut my average mile time down, PR in my next half and run my first full marathon.
Obviously logging more miles is key to improving but so is strengthening.
As a runner everyone tells you you need to strengthen your core. Great. What the heck does that mean, how do I work my core, and why do I need to do this?
Well for starters your core is deep abdominal muscles that attach onto your spine. They help stabilize your back and pelvic floor and build a foundation for proper lower body mechanics. Your core is NOT your abs. Abdominal muscles (your 6 pack ab muscles) are more superficial and while they do help with stabilization they are not the most important factor.
What exercises work the core?
Planks on planks on planks!
You can also do butterfly flutters, scissor kicks, pelvic tilts, and even body weight squats!
So you have your foundation: your core. You will find that your form will improve, your stride may change, and you will decrease your likelihood of injury.
Now why work your hips? If your neglect your hips you are putting yourself at risk for injury. If you lack hip extension (mainly due to hip flexor or quad tightness) you develop a forward drop in your pelvis which is highlighted by an increase in your lower back curve. Ouch. Plus, you are not able to truly activate the largest gluteus muscle (gluteus maximus).
But an even larger culprit in the gluteus family is the gluteus medius. This little guy attaches from your hip bone to the greater trochanter on the femur (this is all on the outside of your leg). What this guy does is stabilize and support the entire lower extremity. In women, because of the shape of our pelvis, ours tend to be super weak. This can cause a hip drop also known as the Trendelenburg sign. A hip drop causes an unusual discrepancy in your walking and running patterns and cause your knees to bend more to make up for the fact that your pelvis cannot stay in line. Your knees compensate for your hips and have an excess amount of weight placed on them, which can cause pain and discomfort. It could also be why your knees hurt after you run. Also, since we are talking about what happens to your knees when your hips are weak, if you ever do a squat and notice your knees tend to come in towards each other is an indicator you have weak hip abductor muscles. Again, you are placing an unnatural amount of weight onto the knee joint and in turn this will cause pain and discomfort.
So how can you strengthen your hips?
Jane Fondas! Aka hip abduction, clamshells, band walks, cable side kicks, glute kick backs, hip abductor machine and glute bridges.
I PROMISE all your lower body aches and pains will actually go away if you strengthen your hips. Even my athletes tell how their knees no longer bother them and they feel as if they have more power and endurance because of the hip strengthening they did.
I myself have began a new hip and core strengthening program and I tell ya those Jane Fondas kick my butt every time. I already notice small improvements with speed and endurance! Hopefully, with strengthening and running daily I’ll crush my 2017 goals!!
What kind of strengthening exercises do you do?
What are some of your 2017 goals?