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  • Writer's pictureGeoff

Run Form Focus - Core and Pelvis

Updated: May 9, 2021

Run Form Focus, Van Run Club, Core and Pelvis Rotation for runners

Pelvis Rotation

So another tool or mechanism that you can play with while running is your pelvis. It rotates forward and back depending on how much you engage your lower abs and your lower back.

The theory behind this is that how or how much to rotate the pelvis is to imagine that your pelvis is like a cup or bowl full of water. As you run you want to make sure that the pelvis (or cup) is level so that none of the water falls out. If you lean or go up or down hill you will have to engage your lower abs or back differently to keep the pelvis level.

The story helps me remember to engage the pelvis, but like most of these mechanisms, it's important to listen to your body and see what works. As you collect more data about what works and what doesn’t, you’ll find the balance for the pelvis rotation that feels best for you. This is another aspect that you can play with, especially if you notice that something in your body isn’t feeling right like an ache or pain. If the ache or pain goes away when you rotate your pelvis, that may be an indicator that your pelvis was misaligned. Every body is different so it's important to listen to your, understand the messages it's sending you and then adjust for those messages.

Engaging your Core

This is a brief overview from another blog I wrote on Core Stability in the Run Basics Series. For more information read that blog.

Lower Abs - When I visualize engaging my lower abs, I like to think of my rib cage and my lower abs as a mouth. When I engage the lower core I think of closing that mouth by bringing the ribs to the lower core. Notice that as you engage your pelvis will also rotate up.

Glutes - For stability there are two ways I visualize engaging my glutes for running. The first is that I'm pushing my pelvis or lower abs forward. The other is, while standing with your feet straight forward, imagine (but don’t move) that your toes are rotating outward away from the toes on the other feet. This rotation should open up your pelvis and engage your glutes.

Inner Thighs - There are two aspects to engage the inner thighs, the first being, squeezing them together like you would if you had a ball in between your legs. The next is to imagine as if you’re pulling your inner thighs up into my perineum or base of your midsection.

I have left the lower back out of this blog as I’ll cover it in the next section. I want to check each blog targeted to the tools I’ll talk about in each Form Focus Run for that week.

If these are new muscles for you to engage or you’re struggling to understand if you’re doing it correctly. I cover quick and easy (60-90s) exercises that you can do to active and engage the different aspects of your core in the Strengthening Your Core from the Injury Prevention Series. Doing 5 mins of core exercises a day can improve your core strength and help to prevent injuries.

The next step is figuring out the balance for how much to engage these muscles while running. Remember that the core or secondary muscles while running provide stability. I like to think of their engagement like a good handshake, not too tense, but not floppy.

I would also like to remind you that I am not a medical professional. These are exercises or movements that have helped me to active the muscles or gain the alignment that feels best for me. It is important to try these out gently and listen to your body. There should be no pain. Pain is generally a sign that the movement as you are doing it doesn’t work for your body right now. If you are ever in doubt, please see a professional.


How to Engage Core

Required Material: none

Duration: 30 secs per aspect, 90-180 per stage

Stage 1

Standing perform the following

  1. Slowly engage the Lower Abs as described above.

  2. Engage and relax a couple of times, so feel the difference

  3. Notice these things:

  4. What happens and how does your core feel when you tightly engage?

  5. How does it feel when you’re fully relaxed or loose?

  6. Try and find the balance that you feel gives you stability

Repeat this exercise for the following muscles:

  1. Glutes

  2. Inner Thighs

Stage 2 - Walk around and play around with each exercise for 30 seconds.

Stage 3 - Standing, play around with each exercise together and see how you feel when you over engage and under engage. Then find a good balance. Remember this is a skill, so it takes practice and follows the same develop process for skill progression.

Stage 4 - Walk around and play with all the engagements together. See how you feel when you over engage and under engage. Then find a good balance.

Why We Engage the Core

Required Material: none

Duration: 3-5 mins


Ensure that you have done the previous exercise and feel comfortable engaging your core. We are going to explore unstable movement and rigid movement to help you feel and find the balance between the two.

  1. Walk or jog for 30-60 seconds and try to relax all of your core muscles. This should be a wobble.

  2. What do you notice about this exercise?

  3. How does your body feel? Remember this is an extreme, meant to give you insight into the detriment of under engaging muscles or muscle fatigue. These sensations will become warning signs as you approach that extreme.

  4. Repeat step 1 but clench/engage all your core muscles. This should feel rigid.

  5. What do you notice about this exercise?

  6. How does your body feel? Remember this is an extreme, meant to give you insight into the detriment of over engaging or rigid muscles. These sensations will become warning signs as you approach that extreme.

  7. Compare the two. No one runs like either of those two extremes. You will fall somewhere in the middle. As you relax or over tighten, you will approach the sensations you felt at the extreme. Use those to guide you to find the balance.

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