Simple Core Exercises (and how to do them correctly)
Strengthening your core is an important aspect of fitness that many runners often overlook. This will give you added stability and will help you have a better running form, which will lead to improved running efficiency and endurance. Having a strong core will also reduce your risk of being injured.
Lay flat on the floor with your stomach facing down. Then lift your body off the ground using your toes and forearms for support. Your elbows should be lined up with your shoulders with your forearms lying flat. Your spine should be straight drawing a line directly from your heels to the tops of your shoulders. Hold this position and then lower gently to relax. Begin with a smaller time like 30 seconds and then work your way up from there.
This is a more advanced variation of the plank. As the name suggests you start on your side. Either one will do to begin. Using the forearm below you push yourself off the floor, at the same time lifting your hips so that only your forearm and the side of your foot are touching the ground. Your top arm should be flat against your body. Again, your elbow on the floor should be directly under your shoulder and your spine should be straight making a line from the top of your shoulder to the top of your ankle. As with the basic plank hold this position and then relax. Start with a manageable time and work your way up. After finishing one side turn over and work from the other. Once you are confident and comfortable with this you can add a variation of lifting the arm that is on top so that it is perpendicular to your body, this will take a bit more balance, but will engage even more of your core.
Lie down with your back on the floor and your knees bent. Cross your hands over your chest. This is better than having them behind your head as it will keep you from pulling on your neck. Tilt your chin slightly so that it is a few inches from your chest and try to maintain this distance through the crunch. While pulling your abdominal muscles inward gently curl your neck, head and shoulders off the ground. Hold this for a moment and then slowly lower back down, but do not relax all the way. Repeat this about 20 times depending on your fitness level. The idea with crunches is not do them quickly, but to work slowly so that your muscles are being used.
Like the basic crunch you begin by laying on your back on the floor, however this time instead of having your hands across your chest place them on the floor along your sides. While pressing your arms into the floor, raise your legs up and bring your knees in toward your chest. Then lower you legs back toward the floor until they are strait and not quite touching the floor. Continue this about 20 times depending on your fitness level.