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How Core Strength Training for Runners Works

Core Strength Training Explained
This runner is strengthening his core muscles by doing crunches on a stability ball.
This runner is strengthening his core muscles by doing crunches on a stability ball.

Core strength training helps ensure that your torso remains steady while you run. The core muscles stabilize your trunk and keep it from wobbling when you move your arms and legs. When all of these muscles are functioning properly, they also reduce the strain on your back and legs.

As mentioned earlier, numerous muscles in your torso and back work together to form your core. Some of the other muscles involved in the core group include the external and internal obliques (muscles that run up and down alongside your abs) and the glutes (hips and buttocks). Can you believe the hamstrings are also part of the core group? Erector spinae -- the muscles and tendons running down your spine to the side of your vertebral column -- are, as well.

It's all about control when it comes to core strength training. When you perform core exercises, which we'll explore shortly, you want to practice proper form to prevent injury. Typically, you'll want to do each exercise slowly while focusing on specific, controlled motion. At the same time, you'll want to regulate your breathing, inhaling and exhaling throughout each exercise, so your muscles can receive the oxygen they need for growth and development.

Hundreds of exercises can challenge your core muscles. Even while reading this article, you can strengthen your core by pulling your navel to your spine, holding that position for 30 seconds and then repeating the exercise at least nine times.

So how do you know if you're doing the exercises the right way? One way to know if you're engaging your core is by talking while you exercise. If you can talk, then you're doing the exercise properly because you're using your diaphragm. Without using your diaphragm, you're not engaging your core muscles. You may wonder how to tell whether core strength training is working. Here's how: Soon after integrating core conditioning into your resistance or weight regimen, you should notice that it's easier to run and perform other physical activities.

Keep in mind that you won't typically lose weight from doing core exercises; they don't burn many calories. But overdoing it with the core exercises may actually bulk up your abs rather than just keeping them toned [source: PureHealthMD].