"Learn how to start running properly and get your body ready from the top down."
Read Time: 5 mins. Learn 4 vital body areas to prepare for running
So you’ve had enough of being unfit, but you don’t know where to start and you don’t want to spend excess money on a gym membership. What is one of the cheapest and ‘easiest’ forms of exercise you ask yourself, and you think ‘running!’
How hard is running? You just get up out of your office chair and start pounding the pavement with your expensive new shoes and all of a sudden you feel like you can run a half marathon.
In this two-part post, we start by looking at four major drivers of the body that enable us to run, and how to use them most effectively; the upper body, the core, hips and glutes. Then in the next post, we will talk about Feet First, It’s A Balancing Act (lateral stability), Find Your Rhythm (cadence) and Going the Distance (how to safely increase your mileage).
‘The core’ is a buzz word these days, and means more than just the six pack you can show off at the beach. The core encompasses your transverse abdominals, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominus and at the back your erector spinae. The transverse abdominus is a very important, deep core muscle that often gets overlooked. It essentially wraps around our trunk like a corset, and connects your ribs and upper body to your hips and pelvis, while also playing an important role in spinal stability.
It is very important that we learn how to engage this muscle effectively, and the other muscles that form our pelvic floor as a whole. Often people think they are engaging their core, when in fact they are not; if you find yourself bracing very hard, scrunching up your face and putting a lot of pressure around your abdominal area, you are probably not activating your core correctly. Core activation is a much smaller movement, and can be done anytime, without anyone even knowing you’re doing it. Check out this article that has some great imagery to help you learn how to properly engage your core.
ITS ALL IN THE HIPS
The hips and pelvis are where it’s at. There have been debates for years over the importance of foot strike but recent studies are now finding that all the power comes from the hips. Get your hips and posture correct and the everything else below that will take care of itself.
When we work at a desk job all day, hip flexors tend to shorten and tighten, which limits hip extension when running. Over time, it also forces the pelvis to sit in unnatural positions – either anterior pelvic tilt or posterior pelvic tilt. Check out this article that goes into depth about the importance of the hips and exercises to help fix alignment.
GET THOSE GLUTES FIRING
The glutes are the biggest muscle group in the body, and drive so much power when running. But again, due to our sedentary lifestyles, we don’t know how to correctly activate them and so other muscle groups, like our quads and hamstrings, overcompensate and get overused. But if we don’t learn how to engage our glutes, we will never run most efficiently.
You should perform some glute tests to check how well your glutes are actually workin, and it is well worth taking a few minutes before you launch into a run to do some of these exercises to ensure your glutes are firing while you’re running.