Running Barefoot — The Importance of Core

Usain Bolt’s coach, Glen Mills, talked in an interview about what helped make Usain Bolt the fastest man in the world.

He revealed something that will surprise most runners, namely, the most important muscles required for fast, efficient running.

Have a guess?

Think it’s the quads? The hamstrings? Glutes? Calves? Eyelids?

Let me quote Glen:

Usain is an extremely gifted athlete. When I started working with him, one of the things that stood out like a sore thumb was his poor mechanics. Part of his poor mechanics was because he was not able hold the sprint position during maximum velocity running, so we had to do an intense programme to develop his core strength. In Beijing he showed a mastery of the technique that we had been working on, but the transformation took two years.

He goes on to discuss in more detail how important the core — primarily the abdominal muscles — are critical for running.

Now, what does this have to do with your running? EVERYTHING.

Next time you run, tighten your core (as if you’re bracing yourself before someone hits you in the stomach). See what that does to your running form.

Play with this. See what changes as you tighten your core, especially the transverse abdominus (the muscles you use to suck in your stomach when you’re trying to fit into a pair of too-tight pants).

Well, if that’s not the motion you make when running, is it the best thing to use for training?

Strength coach Michael Boyle discusses this and suggests that if you want to keep your core stable, you should train it to remain stable while some force is trying to move it.

Looking forward to hearing what you discover when you activate “the most important muscles for running.”