There are a lot of options to choose from when it comes time to hit the gym. One group of muscles that runners should never ignore, however, is the back. Your back keeps you upright and good posture helps you remain injury-free.
“Runners need strong backs—both mid and lower backs—to stabilize the spine and pelvis,” says Dr. Richard Hansen of High Altitude Spine and Sport in Boulder, Colo. “This reduces injury risk by helping to evenly distribute the forces that are being absorbed with each step and helps to improve running economy by reducing energy lost to unnecessary body sway.” If you don’t have a strong back when you begin increasing your running volume, it can eventually lead to tissue breakdown and injury—especially in the lower leg and hip—according to Hansen.
A runner with a strong back also tends to have better posture. Jon-Erik Kawamoto, founder of JK Conditioning, says this translates into more efficiency. “[Runners] have better arm carriage when running,” he says. Kawamoto believes that poor arm carriage can lead to energy leaks with inefficient arm actions when running. Also, a weak low back, in addition to other core musculature, might lead to an energy leak with excessive trunk rotation when running. “Both of these biomechanics inefficiencies can waste energy,” he contends.
Incorporate these three exercises from Competitor into your gym routine to improve your back strength and stability.