Core Exercises for Runners

Nicole Phillips, a physical therapist at ATI Physical Therapy in Darien, Illinois, demonstrates five core strengthening exercises that are great for runners and don’t require a trip to the gym.

Hi, my name is Nicole Phillips and I’m a physical therapist here at the Darien clinic. What we’re going to show you today is just some core exercises that are good for runners, and also for anyone who is trying to focus on their core, which is your hips and your back as well.

Okay, the first exercise we’re going to show you is called “clam shells.” What you’re going to do is keep your hips forward and raise your top leg. It’s working your gluts back here. What you want to make sure you’re not doing is rotating your hips backwards, you want to keep them forward. I would recommend that you start with three sets of ten reps or it could be two sets of fifteen, and adjust based on your strength.

Okay, the next exercise we’re going to do is called “planks.” How you want to set it up is put your elbows underneath your shoulders, and then you’re going to lift up keeping your abs nice and tight. You want to be nice and straight. You don’t want your back to arch down, or lift your butt up. You want to keep nice and straight. You want to start at about twenty seconds, holding, and then maybe work your way up to thirty, forty, fifty, sixty and do two or three sets of those.

The next exercise is called “supermans” and it’s going to be working your abs, core, and back muscles. What she’s going to do is be on her stomach, and then she’s going to lift her arms and legs up at the same time. Holding it up, and she’ll be at about a hold for ten seconds. Try and do ten of those. Then you can work your way up from sets of ten. You can even work to holding for fifteen seconds, to twenty seconds as well.

The next exercise we’re going to do is “Russian twists.” It’s going to work your abs and your obliques. She’s going to lift her legs up, balancing, then she’s going to rotate side to side. You can start with eight reps on each side, and then you can work up to ten reps on each side, and work up to a couple sets.

Okay, our last exercise is a very challenging one. What she’s going to do is she’s going to transfer the ball from her hands to her legs. Then she’s going to bring it back. I would only recommend doing about six reps, resting, and then trying another six. This is very challenging, so you want to start fewer reps and work your way up.

Those are just some core exercises I would recommend for runners, and I would recommend starting two to three times a week, and you can work your way up as you get stronger. The benefits of doing this as a runner is to strengthen those hips muscles for stability when you’re running, and your core for a good upright posture to work up to running longer mileages if you’re training for any longer runs, such as, half marathons or full marathons.

ATI Physical Therapy