Remember when running was pain-free? When knees didn’t niggle and there was no such thing as tight thighs? Post-run pain is a reality for many runners, with up to half of them getting injured each year. Back pain is particularly common – if you have existing back problems, running can exacerbate them; if you do too much running too soon, your lower back can ache. A strong core can help support your back muscles and keep pain at bay.
And, according to the latest study from The Ohio State University in the US, it’s the deep core muscles (including obliques and transversus abdominis) that need the most work. The researchers found that when these muscles are weak, they force the superficial core abdominal muscles (aka the six-pack abs) to work harder and tire faster. The body then compensates by overloading the spine. Try these moves to help keep back issues at bay.
The Best Yoga Poses for Carve Your Core Photo Gallery
GLUTE BRIDGE WITH SQUEEZE
Modern life can cause your glute muscles to switch off. Get lazy glutes firing with this fantastic move that also stabilises the pelvis, works the hamstrings and squeezes the inner thigh muscles. w Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. w Place a block or cushion between your knees and squeeze to stop it falling out (A). w Still squeezing the block, contract your abs and glutes, and lift your hips off the floor, until your body forms a straight line from your neck to knees (B). w Pause, then lower through your spine slowly back to the floor. Do 15 reps.
Want core stability and strength? This twist on the classic plank works the lower back and deep core muscles and targets the shoulders to boot. w Rest your shins on a gym ball with your palms on the floor under your shoulders, so you’re in a press-up position (A). w Pulling your abs up and in, roll the ball towards your hands, lifting your hips and keeping your head between your arms (B). w Once your body forms an inverted ‘V’ shape, pause, then roll back to the starting position. Do 12 reps.
Find a low wall or bench and perform this move after your run. Not only does this plank variation strengthen the core, it also puts shoulder and arm strength to the test. Win-win. w Get into a plank position in front of a step or low platform, with your body in a straight line from your head to your heels (A). w Place your right hand on top of the step (B), then follow with your left. Remove your right hand from the step and place it on the floor again, followed by your left hand. w Repeat, leading with your left hand. One rep consists of four hand movements so, to complete your workout, do 10 reps leading with your right hand, then 10 leading with your left hand (20 reps in total).
PULSING SIDE PLANK
The side of the body can be a source of weakness. Hit the medial glute muscles, shoulders, obliques and back muscles with this pulsing plank. w Lie on your left side with your ankles, knees, hips and shoulders in line with each other, your left elbow resting on the floor and your right hand on your right hip. w Lift your hips off the floor into a side plank, so your body’s in a straight line and your core’s tight (A). w Without letting your back or core collapse, dip your hips towards the floor (B), before raising them back to the start. That’s one rep; do 10.
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