By Caroline Varriale

Most runners know that having a strong core is essential to running efficiency. After all, what is connecting our legs and arms as we fly from one side to the other? Our trunk and core are perhaps the most important part of our body to strengthen and train, and running is an extremely challenging activity for the core to stabilize.

What many runners (and other athletes) fail to realize is that a strong core comes from being strengthened dynamically. Your abs and back don’t get stronger for running by contracting tightly in one position as you run out of breath (hello static plank!). Maybe this would work if we were standing tense as a board when we run…but thankfully we’re not. Your core is designed to control the movement of your spine, and to transmit energy between your upper and lower body as well as the right and left sides of your body. This means that you want to use dynamic planks with leg reaches, arm reaches, and hip/pelvic movements to get a lot more core strength for your time!

Planks with Leg Movement from The Run SMART Project on Vimeo.

Caroline Varriale received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Duke University and has been with Finish Line Physical Therapy in New York City since 2013. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is recognized as a Fellow of Applied Functional Science (FAFS) through the internationally acclaimed Gray Institute. A long-time runner, Caroline also enjoys varying her workouts with biking, resistance & strength training, plyometrics and yoga. She ran the 2013 New York City Marathon as part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training and completed the 2014 New York City Triathlon.