It’s time to perfect your plank
A new study which examines the causes of chronic back pain in runners has revealed the exercises which could help prevent it.
Published in the Journal of Biomechanics, the research from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, suggests that it is weak deep core muscles that put runners at higher risk of developing low back pain.
And, that most people’s deep core muscles are nowhere near as strong as they should be.
In the study, researchers used motion detection technology and force-measuring floor plates to measure the dimensions of runner’s bodies and how they moved to create a computer model specific to that person.
This allowed them to examine how every bone moves and how much pressure is put on each joint before using the simulation to virtually 'turn off' certain muscles and observe how the rest of the body compensates.
Interestingly, they found that weak deep core muscles force superficial muscles like abs to work harder and reach fatigue faster.
And, when those superficial muscles are doing all the work the deep core should be doing, this is when pain occurs.
“When your deep core is weak, your body is able to compensate in a way that allows you to essentially run the same way,” said Ajit Chaudhari, associate professor of physical therapy and biomedical engineering at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
“But that increases the load on your spine in a way that may lead to low back pain.”
As such, Chaudhari explains that traditional ab exercises like sit-ups or back extensions will not give you the strong core you need to be a better runner.
Instead, he says exercises like planks that focus on stabilising the core are what’s needed.
“Working on a six-pack and trying to become a better runner is definitely not the same thing,” Chaidhari said.
“If you look at great runners, they don't typically have a six-pack but their muscles are very fit.
"Static exercises that force you to fire your core and hold your body in place are what's really going to make you a better runner."