Figg, K., Kirk, C., Wittman, K., Appel, K., Handorff, A., Van Guilder, G., & Janot, J. (2012). Effects of short-term core endurance training on running economy. Presentation 2620 at the 59th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, San Francisco, California; May 29-June 2, 2012.

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"The core musculature assists in stabilizing the spine during dynamic movement. Poor core endurance has been shown to increase the risk of spinal injury and may be linked to movement inefficiency. Therefore, improving core endurance may produce favorable changes in body posture and stability leading to improved health and exercise performance. With respect to performance, previous research has produced conflicting results regarding the potential benefits of core training on running economy (RE)."

This study determined if short-term (12 weeks) core endurance-training improved running economy in healthy young adults (M = 3; F = 13). Thirteen exercises were used to train the anterior, lateral, and posterior core musculature. Measurements of anthropometry, core endurance, and running economy were performed prior to and following the 4-week program.

Right- and left-side bridge, flexor, and back extensor endurance times were significantly increased following training. Despite increases in core endurance, a significant decrease in running economy was observed.

Implication. Core endurance training improved the function and endurance times of the core muscles. There was no transfer of improvements to running economy. In fact, running economy worsened as core endurance improved. This raises the specter of such training being detrimental to running economy as well as showing the specificity of training effects. The exercises trained improved but a more general activity (i.e., running) did not. It would be interesting to see if the same no-transfer phenomenon occurs in other sports.

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