The intensity in the room was so thick; one could cut it with a knife. A group of women sitting focused on the screen, watching the live camera view from the lead vehicle; the 100 men competing for 3 slots to make the US Marathon Olympic team. This vivid memory from Charlotte North Carolina in 1996 continues to impact my clinical decision making as a physical therapist. I will never forget the commentator’s announcement that given the same VO2 max, stride length, etc…, “the one with the most stable pelvis wins”!
I decided to write this article from my >20 year experience working with runners. I’ve had amazing hands on opportunities from working with people who like (and don’t like) to run from the beginner to professional, from biomechanical wrecks to those finely tuned machines. This given article only serves as a possible opportunity for those aspired to integrate 4 core stabilization exercises into their training. I have seen many injuries over the years, and feel strongly that prevention is the key. Cross training in all planes is imperative.
In Taber’s medical dictionary, dynamic stabilization is defined as “an integrated function of neuromuscular systems requiring muscles to contract and fixate the body against fluctuating outside forces, providing postural support with fine adjustments in muscle tension. The term usually pertains to a function of the trunk, shoulder, and hip muscles and includes the lower extremity muscles when they are functioning in a closed chain.” In short, the term is used for the development of postural stability and skilled movement control. Principals in stabilization may include: isolation before integration; slow before fast; and correct breathing.
The following, in my clinic experience, are the “4 for the core” that if preformed correctly can prevent many common running injuries. Neutral pelvis is required to perform the exercises correctly. Body alignment is essential with the ear, shoulder and hip being in a line. The pelvis position can be viewed like a bowl; the bowl is level, not dumping water out the front (sway back) or the back (flat back).
1. Plank on elbows: Pelvis is neutral, avoid arching the low back by tightening your abdominals (bring your belly button towards the spine).
Advanced plank on elbows: lifting one leg; more difficult- lifting leg with opposite arm.
2. Side plank on elbow: Pelvis is neutral, visualize yourself between 2 plates of glass and lift trunk toward ceiling.