Why Crunches and Other Ab Exercises Won't Help Your Running

One of the most difficult challenges runners face is avoiding injuries. Training, improving, and reaching our goals would be infinitely easier if we didn't have to worry about getting injured.

Unfortunately, the reality is that injuries do happen ... and they happen often. Recent research estimates that 82 percent of runners will get injured at some point in their running careers.

Luckily, you can reduce your chances of becoming a statistic by avoiding the common reasons running injuries occur.

Running injuries occur primarily for two reasons: structural deficiencies and training issues. Training mistakes that lead to injury include running too fast, too soon, and increasing mileage too quickly. While I could easily write a book on these training mistakes, they've been covered extensively before.

More: Why Strength Training Is Key to Running Strong

Instead, in this series of articles, I'll focus on how you can build a strong structural system to stay injury-free.

The first article in the series focuses on the "core": abdominals, lower back, hips and pelvis. I'll address the function of these areas, discuss how they're affected by running, and show you a few of the most effective exercises to strengthen these areas to prevent injury.

How We Use Our Core When Running

Core is a big buzzword these days, and, as such, it's bolstering an industry of Bosu balls, wobble boards and ab rollers. But, how is core defined, and what does it actually mean to runners?

Ask for a core workout from a personal trainer at a health club, and he'll probably give you a series of crunches and sit-ups to develop six-pack abs. But core should mean something very different to a runner. It includes all of the muscles of the lower trunk and pelvis—not only your abs and your back, but also your hip flexors, abductors and adductors, too.

More: Build Core Strength and Endurance Without Crunches

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