Core training is a term widely used, but poorly understood. Our core consists of a group of muscles building a bridge between the upper and lower body, which forms a solid base of support. It includes the abdominals, back stabilising muscles, pelvic girdle musculature and the diaphragm. This base of support empowers us to propel ourselves forward when running with effective weight transfer from one leg to the other, without losing our balance.
The aim of core training is to stabilise the spine and pelvis for prevention of injuries, such as low back pain and Iliotibialband syndrome (IBS). The term abdominal bracing is used when Transversus Abdominus is recruited and it can be done as follows – Palpate on the inside of the pelvic bony prominences, and give a small cough to locate the muscle. Now activate it again by getting the feeling of pulling your navel slightly in toward your spine.
The lower back and abdominals must be trained to contract as a unit, and this will act as a “corset” for stabilisation. The following exercises needs to be done while this above-mentioned stabilisation is maintained:
1. Supine bridging strengthens the buttock muscles while engaging the core. Lie flat on your back with knees bent and contract the buttock to do a pelvic tilt. Lift one leg in the air while keeping the pelvis stable, and progress to an uneven surface.
2. Front bridging is firstly done on the forearms for a more stable base. Keep your back straight and contact your core. Progress to lifting one foot off the ground, and then repeat with feet on an uneven surface.
3. Lateral bridging is important for sideline stability. Balance on your elbow, keeping the legs straight. Progress to lifting the top leg and finally balancing on an unstable surface. Change sides.
4. Push-ups strengthen the core as an integrated system because it challenges every aspect of the body’s stabilising function. Start in a front bridging position, but increase the difficulty by doing it on a rock or stairs.
Do these exercises 3-4 times a week to build sufficient core strength.