One of the most important concepts to consider when beginning a running program is the foundational basis of a strong core. One of the biggest pitfalls many runners fall into is simply lacing up their sneakers and just racking up the miles.

If core strengthening in conjunction with running is virtually ignored, runners ‘run’ the risk of compensation and overuse based injuries, inefficient use of muscles, and increase their risk of muscular strains and injury. The so called “core” that everyone talks about is not just one muscle, but rather a group of roughly 30 muscles that encompass the back, abdominal, pelvic, and hip complex.

Each of these muscles works independently and in conjunction with each other to help support your spine/pelvis and its surrounding structures to maintain a relatively neutral alignment during your run. Without proper strength, endurance, control, and coordination of these muscles, the body operates in a disorganized state and relies on the stronger, more global muscles to take the brunt of the impact when you decide to hit the pavement running.

Research has continuously shown that smaller, deeper stabilizing muscles such as the transverse abdominus and multifidi start to work prior to movement of the arms and legs in an effort to stabilize the spine while the larger force producing muscles such as the rectus abdominus (the so called “6 pack”), obliques, and leg and hip muscles help to control acceleration and deceleration of your body.

Some of the best exercises to help you start to build a strong core do not require the use of a gym or paying an expensive personal trainer, but rather a just a few minutes of focus per day.  Below are a few simple exercises that can help you in making a significant difference in the efficiency of your muscles during your run.