Focus on the Body

HARD CORE, HEALTHY RUNNER

Prehab your problem areas to run injury-free

Your core is like a power plant. If it’s not strong, “your running mechanics can decay,” says Tim Hilden, a physical therapist, athletic trainer, and exercise physiologist, specializing in running mechanics at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine in Colorado. “You’ll see too much unwanted movement, which decreases performance or sets you up for injury.” Here are three areas that can become injured as a result of a weak core.

Lower Back

As your legs pound the pavement, your vertebrae absorb much of the force. That shock worsens if your core is weak, which will produce lower-back pain. Build those muscles with moves like the superman.

Hamstrings

When your core isn’t stable, your hamstrings often have to work extra hard, says Marcus O’ Sullivan, track coach for Villanova University. The added work can leave them shorter, tighter, and more vulnerable to injury. To strengthen them, as well as your glutes, try exercises like bridges, lunges, and squats.

Knees

Without a stable core, you can’t control the movement of your torso as well, and you risk putting excess force on your joints each time your foot lands. This can lead to pain under the knee (known as “runner’s knee”), patellar tendinitis (a sharp pain in the bottom of the knee), and iliotibial-band tendinitis. The plank and side plank strengthen the transversus abdominis, which help steady the core.

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