It is not often that the muscles in the abdominals are used to actually twist and move the back so why should the exercises we choose to do involve bending and twisting?
Let’s think about what the core really does! When you hop, skip, jump, run and walk, the role of the abdominal muscles is to keep your torso and spine still. There are a lot of forces being transferred from the arms and legs into the torso that make it want to bend and twist. These forces are met by muscle activation to counter the force and ultimately hold you still with a nice steady base.
If we look more closely at running, the arms are swinging back and forth which makes the top of the body want to swing and twist. This doesn’t happen thanks to the oblique muscles (the muscles on the side of your stomach). As for the legs moving up and down as well as forwards and back, the body will want to bend and extend as well as twist through the lower back. This is resisted by the Rectus Abdominus (the 6-pack muscle), muscles through the back and again, the obliques.
The secret to core exercises is to BE SPECIFIC!
If your goal is to improve your running technique, efficiency and performance then look to do exercises where you hold the torso still and move the arms and legs around this. For most things we do in life, like walking, climbing stairs, putting the shopping away, the abdominal’s role is similar to that of running. If you are looking for a generally strong core, I would also recommend exercises where you keep the back still and move your arms and legs.
This changes for things like throwing or kicking where you want the muscles to help rotate the body to get more force behind the movement. In this case you want exercises that have you move through your torso exactly how you expect to move when throwing or kicking.
There are a million ways to do core exercises and there are no good or bad exercises, some are just more targeted or specific. Try to be smarter with your core exercise choice by thinking about why you are doing it!
If you haven’t yet, take the opportunity to watch Jordan’s exercises in which he shows some exciting and challenging exercises that are specific for running.
If you are having trouble putting together a core program, let us help you! We can create you a personalised core exercise program, or you can join in with one of our Pilates classes!