This article originally appeared in “Runner’s World”
The key to better, injury-free running lies in deep muscles you’re not working—yet.
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So how do you get your inner core functioning properly? It starts with breathing. When you inhale using your diaphragm (allowing your rib cage to open to the sides and belly to expand) rather than just breathing using your chest, your pelvic floor and transverse abdominis muscles lengthen. When you exhale, your pelvic floor and transverse abdominis recoil. This generates deep tension in your torso—good tension that anchors your core and creates stability when you run. Wiebe’s strategy starts here, with exercises that teach you how to engage your inner core. Practicing them as regularly as possible will teach your body to actively recruit these muscles and connect them with the outer core, which will eventually carry over to your running.
Works glutes and back while recruiting your inner core first for stability.
How to do it: Attach a band overhead. Hold both handles. Step back so you feel tension in the band when arms are outstretched. Keeping arms straight, inhale as you lower into a squat. Exhale and lift your pelvic floor. Continue to exhale as you return to standing while pulling the handles to your hips. Inhale and again squat, returning your arms to the starting position. Repeat five to 10 times.
Helps you find neutral alignment while leaning (to mimic running posture).
How to do it: Stand in neutral posture. Lean forward from your ankles and shift your weight to your forefoot. Feel your rib cage glide forward. Your butt should remain untucked. Exhale and inhale (as instructed in “Breathe Right,” above). Repeat a few times until you have a feel for breathing in this position.
Recruits your inner core to then work your abductors and adductors.
How to do it: Stand in neutral posture, and place your right foot on a towel. Inhale and feel your belly rise and pelvic floor soften as you slide your right foot out. Exhale and lift your pelvic floor. As you continue to exhale, pull the towel back. Repeat five to 10 times on each side.
Activates your inner core muscles.
How to do it: Start on your hands and knees. Inhale and feel your belly expand and pelvic floor soften. Exhale as you lift your pelvic floor. Continue to exhale as you rock forward, sending your shoulders past your wrists. If you tuck your butt or get an exaggeration of the curve in your lower back, you’ve gone too far. Reset with an inhale. Repeat five to 10 times.
Training your inner core while doing plyometrics prepares it for running.
How to do it: Stand with feet wide and arms over- head, forming an X. Inhale; feel your belly rise and pelvic floor soften. Exhale as you lift your pelvic floor. Continue to exhale; jump your feet together and lower your arms. Step back out; repeat five to 10 times. Progress to full-speed jacks.