The importance of core strength for runners

Having just taught a Pilates workshop aimed at runners for lululemon UK in London, I thought it would be timely to follow up with some thoughts on exactly why core strength is so important if you run. 

Run faster and further with less chance of injury

Whether your running is an occasional weekend pursuit, a regular part of your fitness week or indeed your profession having a strong core is vital not only for injury prevention but to increase your overall strength. Running is an easy way to keep in cardiovascular shape but there's no doubt your body can take a pounding due to the nature of it being high impact on the joints, as well as the potential to develop asymmetries.  Body asymmetries develop from poor body mechanics which causes certain muscles to become overused, whilst others become underused resulting in a variety of ailments such as lower back pain, hip bursitis, knee pain, tendonitis, hamstring tears, strains and pulls.

The Core of the Matter

Runners like any athlete should view the body as a functional unit consisting of many parts which work together and have specific roles in performance as well as injury prevention. And at the centre of the body is the core, that area between the bottom of the rib cage and the pelvis. It's the epicentre of your power and deserves your attention and your time. All movement starts from the core, and when running it endures a considerable workload. The bottom line is if you're not strong in the middle you won't be powerful. For runners this core strength comes into play as a stabiliser of the body; being able to maintain good posture will maximise your performance and help avoid injury. Core stability is achieved through muscles that are strong but evenly balanced as well as flexible enough to enable the relevant joints to move through their full range of motion. And because everything in the core is connected, excessive tightness in any area can limit movement elsewhere and lead to injury. Tightness results in poor posture, and poor posture creates inefficiency. It's a vicious circle.

Why do Pilates?

Pilates exercises create a stronger, more flexible spine and core as well as promote faster recovery from injury.  Good posture is dependant on a strong core, and whilst many knowledgeable athletes understand the importance of a good set of abs, they often neglect the other key core muscles of the lower back,  hips, pelvis and bottom. Pilates will build up the back muscles evenly, align as well as elongate the spine for better stability, and increase overall flexibility, strength and balance. Pilates will increase the range of motion in hips and shoulders whilst strengthening them at the same time and it will expand the diaphragm. It will also enhance concentration through the focused breathing technique that is fundamental to the practice.

Performance Benefits

If you have a stronger, more stable core you will run more efficiently uphill with a stabilised musculature, run more efficiently downhill with a strong and more balanced sciatic area, experience less tightening in the neck and shoulders, and increase oxygenation and stamina with a diaphragm that is able to expand fully. You'll also decrease fatigue because of less strain on your body, and be able to focus on correct technique as you develop better kinaesthetic awareness. There’s no doubt core training can pay huge dividends and in the long run your body will thank you for it.  And the best bit of all?

You'll shave seconds off your times because you simply move better and more efficiently.

Now that can’t be bad can it?

© Rachel Lawrence. All rights reserved. No reproduction without permission.


Everything you wanted to know about pilates but were afraid to ask!

I am very excited to announce I will be running my first Pilates workshop on Sunday June 1st. This is a new venture for me and the idea is to encourage those people who haven't tried Pilates before, or those who have tried it but wasn't sure it was for them to come and experience the great benefits, and the great workout you can get from a Pilates class.

I teach it California style. What does that mean I hear you ask!

Well, it's a little more dynamic than some of the more traditional Pilates you may have experienced, and a little more challenging. I believe we are all more capable than we think when it comes to fitness and wellbeing, and my teaching style is focused on helping you get the most out of your workout whilst also enjoying it. Exercise doesn't have to be a task after all, it can actually be fun too! Especially when you start to see, and feel the benefits in your body.  Heres what some of my clients have been saying about classes: 

We have been doing Pilates for years and have tried out various classes in Chiswick. Rachel’s classes are by far the best! You definitely work hard but you can see (and feel) the results: The backaches are gone and your body feels so much more toned. We highly recommend giving the classes a try! Anne and Peter

Rachel is a really creative teacher - her positive attitude inspires us to succeed with things we never thought possible! Janet

When I saw Rachel teaching Pilates, I knew straight away that she was a top professional and the teacher I was looking for. She is very clear with her instructions and does all the exercises with us, always checking that we are doing them right and focusing on us breathing correctly and engaging our core muscles throughout the class – all so indispensable for a great Pilates class. Carla

Please email if you'd like to book a place, I look forward to seeing you there!