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Two Types of Core Exercises All Runners Should Do

While there are many different exercises you can use to accomplish the same results, below are two types of core exercises runners often neglect that can make a big difference.

Lots of runners have adopted a core routine, but could they be getting more out of those exercises?

Below are two prime areas that runners should be focusing on in their core routines to both improve performance and lower injury risk.

1. Hip Adductors

The adductors are often a neglected muscle of the hip that play a big role in injury and performance. Our body works in opposing forces to provide stability and locomotion. The hip abductors (think glutes) get all of the attention and fanfare, but you cannot neglect the hip¬†adductors. We argue that the Adductor Magnus should actually be called the Extensor Magnus because of its role in hip extension during running, but we will save that tangent for another day! ūüôā

A recent article did a systematic review on a great exercise for the hip adductors, the Copenhagen Plank. The article found that there was increased strength and muscle activation after doing the Copenhagen plank, which may help reduce injury rates. There are plenty of variations for this exercise. We tend to start athletes with a bent knee on a workout bench, and build up to a variation like you can see below in this video.

2. Hip Flexors

Guess what…those tight hip flexors may actually be¬†weak¬†hip flexors! It isn’t surprising that we recommend incorporating hip flexor strength into a core routine, especially for athletes with hip and/or lower back pain.

Technically, you may not think of the hip flexors as a core muscle. However, we see clinically that they can play a large role in core stability. Some of the hip flexor muscles have attachments to the spine. If a runner is using the hip flexors to provide extra stability to the spine, those hip flexors will be overworked and wind up tight because they cannot keep up with the demand.

Therefore, the first hip flexor exercise we start out with is what we call Straight Leg Raise Lowering. This exercise teaches runners how to differentiate the hip flexors from our more traditional core stabilizers (like the Transverse Abdominus). Check out instructions in the video below.

Once this exercise becomes less challenging (it is surprisingly difficult for many people when performed correctly), we progress them to a standing marching activity and a seated straddle leg lift.

Hopefully this provides additional value when designing core routines for the runners & athletes you serve.

Looking for more ideas and guidance? Read about strength routines for runners here.