Running is not just a matter of legs and lungs. A fundamental muscle group that should not be overlooked is the body of the abdomen muscles. Its muscle tone must be maintained or strengthened, if necessary, with specific exercises or also with the help of other sports: “They are muscles stabilizing the pelvis and lower limbs in all sports and play a central role for running”, recalls Dr. Piero Volpi, Head of Knee Orthopedics and Sport Traumatology at Humanitas.
Abdomen and back
The spinal column is a part of the skeletal apparatus, the scaffolding of the human body: “Let’s compare the trunk to a sailing boat: the tree post is precisely the spine, which gives the capacity and the position, but it is the muscles, like the sails, that govern the dynamic activity of the trunk. The abdominal and paravertebral muscles are the groups that support the stem and control the movement of the trunk,” says Dr. Volpi.
This is true in all forms of exercise, including running: “In running or in any activities that require it, the muscles of the abdomen and paravertebral muscles play a fundamental role. A similar speech – adds Dr. Volpi – can also be made for jumping “.
The muscle tone of the trunk must be adequate to support the column. What if your muscles are poorly trained? “In the first place, having poorly trained muscles causes the athletic gestures to be carried out incorrectly, with the trunk and pelvis placed incorrectly, risking problems such as muscle myalgia. In addition, the subject has a more precarious balance, gets tired faster, experiences more fatigue and faces an increased risk of injury,” warns the specialist.
If running is an excellent form of aerobic physical activity, this can be completed with muscle strengthening exercises, as suggested by the same international guidelines. The indication is to include toning exercises in your weekly training for at least two days, with the aim of involving the major muscle groups and not training for two consecutive days.
The benefits of a tonic musculature also go beyond a better performance of sports activities. If the muscles of the trunk, abdomen and back are weakened, you run the risk of maintaining incorrect postures and you are more likely to experience low back pain. But how can you strengthen your abdominal and paravertebral muscles? “Some sports activities can help develop them more than others, such as swimming, done in any style. Therefore, going to the swimming pool once a week can be an excellent side activity for those who dedicate themselves to running “.
Amateur runners can also practice exercises for strengthening the abdominal muscles, with all possible variations, from crunches to sit-ups, from reverse crunches to plank positions, to exercises on the fitness ball: “The important thing is to do them correctly. They may seem like banal or harmless exercises but they are not. For example, for the crunch you have to keep your knees bent, your pelvis flattened on the ground, your feet resting on the ground and your hands supporting the cervical area to avoid stressing your neck muscles,” concludes Dr. Volpi.