If you’re struggling with balance, stability or injury, there’s something you should know: improving your running starts with good strength.
Finding a solution to these problems is all about identifying your weaknesses and taking action to improve them.
As a Physical Therapist, I’ve watched hundreds of runners make this realization. They’ve discovered that targeted strength training is the key to all of their problems when it comes to a long and successful running career.
Why Strengthen the Core?
Core strength is all about giving power to the center of the body. This allows the hips, pelvis and lower back to work together more smoothly to increase balance and boost stability. Running for long durations or on rugged terrain requires both factors, and training the core can make them stronger.
Strengthening the core isn’t all about crunches and ab workouts. Bridging can help to identify weaknesses and build strength for smarter and stronger running.
Learn How to Strengthen the Core With Bridging
Find a Comfortable Position
To begin this bridging exercise, find somewhere comfortable to work out and roll out your mat. You can bridge from absolutely anywhere, so this is ideal if you’re working with limited space or don’t want to join an expensive gym.
Lie flat on your back and take a minute to prepare yourself for some bridging magic.
Once you’ve found a comfortable center, it’s time to bridge up. Raise your hips into the air by pushing up through your heels, using the strength of your core to hold you up. Your butt should be nice and tight and shouldn’t droop down at any point.
If you’re unsure of your form, try lying next to a mirror or set up a selfie camera to your side. This way, you can check for any weaknesses and address them! Before moving on to any progressions, hold the bridge position for 10 seconds at a time, working your way up to a minute.
The Ultimate Strength Test
While bridging is a great way to build core strength, you can also use it to identify the areas you need to improve the most. Not only does it expose problems with the central core, but it can also help us to recognise which side muscles we need to work on.
While in the bridge position, raise one of your knees into the air. Don’t worry about straightening the leg – instead, hold it in a relaxed bend as if you were preparing for a lunge. Cross your arms across your chest to avoid stabilizing yourself subconsciously.
Each rep should last for 20 seconds at a time on each leg, repeated 5 times.
While completing each lift, ask yourself:
- Does one side feel weaker than the other?
- Is my butt dropping to the floor while raising either leg?
- Am I tilting or rotating my leg to reduce the strain?
If you answered YES to any of the above, you’ve identified your weakness.
This means there’s an imbalance that needs to be fixed to avoid injury and take your running to the next level. Bridging consistently will help to eliminate it for good!
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If you’re interested in finding out more about how strength training and proper form can improve your running and prevent injuries, check out RunSmart today.
The RunSmart app offers:
- Exclusive access to more than 40 strength programs that fix imbalances that cause injury and slower running.
- More effective injury prevention and better recovery with the full RunSmart Protocol seminar and step-by-step guide to training better.
- Your very own custom training plan (based on the Gonser Method) to prevent injury and maximize performance.
- Enrolment on our RunSmart Mechanix improvement program, designed to help you address and fix your running form.
- Exclusive access to a leading team of world-class coaches, including myself, with live Q&A sessions and direct lines to ask questions.
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