We are starting a 3-part series focusing on developing a strong CORE for runners and athletes. There has been lots of media coverage recently about how to develop six pack abs and how to lose weight fast whenever the new year rolls around. And this gets lumped in with the CORE. But most folks will have broken resolutions just a month later. Strengthening the CORE seems to be all the rage but for good reasons.
As runners and athletes, having a strong CORE is crucial. Beyond the impressive six pack, a solid CORE is essential for optimal athletic performance. In order to continuously develop and maintain a strong CORE, I'm personally using the following tools to supplement my running shoes, running form, nutrition, and cross training for competitive track & field events. And most important of all, injury prevention and optimal performance.
A strong CORE means you have power in all the muscles from the mid thigh to the lower ribcage, front, sides/hips, and back/lower back of the body. The main role of your CORE is to stabilize your torso during all dynamic movements. If you lack stability from a weak CORE, your muscles won't fire efficiently. With a strong CORE, runners will have arm and leg movements that are balanced, efficient, and injury-free. You have all your muscles working together as a single unit. A side benefit is that you might have great six pack abs but that is not our primary focus.
In this article, we will review the Trigger Point Therapy SMRT-CORE program which focuses on developing the CORE for runners. Two future posts will cover the VeloPress book, Quick Strength for Runners, developing the CORE and other muscle groups with a special focus on running, and the world-famous Tony Horton P90X3 for developing the whole body.
SMRT-CORE is self-myofascial release therapy and CORE strengthening work efficiently combined in the same workout using a revolutionary foam roller, The GRID®. Presented as an educational 3-DVD collection with several individual workouts, the program is easy to follow, designed for various fitness levels and challenges the CORE while delivering a self-massage.
Level 1 engages the CORE and teaches the foundational "push-pull" movements needed to perform all the SMRT-CORE exercises. A great starting point for increasing strength and stability.
Level 2 incorporates the foundational movements from Level 1 but adds intensity with a "press" after many "push-pull" exercises to build power, increasingly work the CORE and further improve performance.
Level 3 is the next step up by taking the "push-pull-press" and adding a "pause" at the peak intensity of each movement. Then off to the hardest part of each exercise and hold that position to give you the most challenging strength and stability workout.
The GRID® is a foam roller that is different than the traditional one you find at your local doctor's office or one prescribed by them. The GRID® features a 3-dimensional surface whereas traditional foam rollers have a flat surface and prohibit blood flow at the point of pressure. The matrix of 3D distrodensity zones allows for blood and oxygen to channel through and create elasticity in the muscle to deliver a precision massage associated with self-myofascial release therapy.
The distrodensity zones allows you to control the level and intensity of massage. With its hollow core and sturdy EVA foam construction, the GRID® uses less foam than your ordinary foam roller and will not break down with normal day-to-day use. The durable, travel-friendly and environmentally conscious product is backed by a 1-year warranty.
The many benefits of the GRID® are:
- Improved circulation
- Increased blood flow
- Releases muscle tightness
- Breaks down knots in your muscles
- Reduces pain
When you perform various exercises in the SMRT-CORE program with the GRID®, it also helps to engage your muscles and build strength. The secret is that the foam roller is unstable thus it works your CORE muscles and helps improve balance.
For anyone who has muscle tightness or muscle imbalances like myself, using a foam roller on a regular basis can help loosen tight muscles and increase flexibility. Studies have shown that using a foam roller on your hamstrings may lead to statistically significant increases in range of motion after just five to 10 second! It also prevents muscle stiffness and is a great recovery aid. Because the GRID® foam roller is small and portable (great for travel) it makes it difficult to properly roll the upper back. The GRID® with the SMRT-CORE DVD collection is your path to a stronger CORE!