Core Series: More Than a 6-Pack

I am going to start a movement. It’s the True Core Movement.

Most people think of the core as being the abdominals. Some are knowledgable enough to know that the core includes the back muscles. A few think about glutes as a component but few, if any, consider the adductors, hamstrings, middle back, or quadriceps when thinking about the core.

If you only consider the abdominals and the back muscles to be the core, you’re missing out on the larger muscles that can make or break your core stability.

Glutes >>>> Abs, Back, everything else

Glutes >>>> Abs, Back, everything else

And a strong core isn’t primarily about strength. It’s about stability and symmetry. I really should go ahead and trademark my 3 S’s theory before someone else does, but I don’t know how. Do you? Tell me.

And when thinking about the core, if you focus on muscles, you’re thinking too small. Think BIG. Think hips.

Like Shakira says, hips don't lie.

Like Shakira says, hips don’t lie.

Any muscle that touches any part of the hip girdle or sacrum is part of the core. And any of these muscles can GREATLY affect your ability to maintain strength, symmetry, and a stability. It will also directly affect whether or not you get injured, your ability to run faster, and how much energy you require to run.

And these muscles will change the symmetry of your hips, directly affecting the strength output and stability of your entire body. Whoa.

Big. Freakin. Deal.

Hahaha! Remember this? Oh, Biden.

Hahaha! Remember this? Oh, Biden.

So, in this series, we’ll talk about all of these muscles and how to keep them on point to make you a stronger, faster, less-injured runner. If you bookmark these posts, you’ll have a great program for strength training that covers all your pelvic core muscles.

Just a thought.

Are you excited? I’m excited. Let’s do this.

Now go out and run.

The Great Illiotibial Band Mystery

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had Illiotibial Band Syndrome.

*Hand up*

That mysterious pain on the outside of your knee or hip that hurts more the more you run? That’s the one. If you’ve been a runner for more than a month, you’ve probably come across some IT Band problems. It’s such a common issue for runners that it gets its own post!

Hello, little band. You are a big pain in the butt.

There are a couple of things to understand about the IT Band:

  1. It’s fascia, not a muscle.
  2. Its origin (upper attachment) is on the muscle belly of the Tensor Fascia Lata (which attaches to the hip) and the iliac crest and girdle (hip).
  3. Its insertion (lower attachment) is to the femur (thigh), the patella (knee) and the tibia (shin).
  4. In a cadaver, the fascia is about as thick as tissue paper but wicked-strong.

Because the attachment sights are at the hip and the knee/shin area, the wider your hips are, (or more knocked-kneed you are) the more prone to IT Band problems you will be. This is why women experience more cases of IT Band syndrome than men. Yet another awesome anatomic anomaly in favor of the fairer sex. Yay.

Essentially, it is the job of this fascia to stabilize both the knee and hip. It is tense in both extension and flexion of the knee (when you bend and straighten it = all the time) and it is also involved in hip abduction (moving your leg out to the side). What does this mean for runners? Well, it’s always working. In every direction. For the whole run.

Ergo, without proper training it gets pooped out easily.

Why IT Band Syndrome happens:

  1. Your hips/glutes are weak.
  2. You add too much mileage or speed too soon.
  3. Your shoes suck.
  4. Your gait is wonky.

These problems are easily fixed by the following methods:

  1. Hip/Glute strengthening exercises.
  2. Stretching (live in half-pigeon for a while).
  3. Only add 10-15% more mileage every week (and cut back if you have pain).
  4. Foam roll your hips and glutes.

See? The IT Band isn’t so scary now that you know what to do with it! You should really be doing all of this anyway to prevent IT Band (and other) injuries so get on it! If your pain persists after implementing these tips, lay off the running and see and orthopedist to make sure it’s not something more serious.

Happy trails!

Now go out and run.