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Not many of us can continue to run every day and stay fit at the same time. Running has the tendency to put considerable stress on joints and lead to all manners of pain and aches if you’re not careful. The repetitive movement involved can be brutal, especially as you age and your bones become weaker. This is where Pilates can better condition your body to deal with this stress.
Pilates is a functional routine that is all about strengthening the core. It improves your stability, flexibility and allows you to be in total control of your body’s movements. Read on to learn how and why Pilates benefits runners.
Strengthens the Core
When we say that Pilates strengthens the core, you might be wondering what we mean by the core? The core muscles form the foundation of the body. These include the muscles in the abdominal area, hips, back, neck, and upper body. A strong core means that you are more stable and centred when you run.
Running involves a whole host of muscles. From your back to your hips, knees, and feet, every muscle group has a part to play. Having said this, when one of these muscles is underdeveloped or weak, the whole system is affected. As you run, you put a tremendous force on your body. Even if just one of your muscles is not up to the task, it will wreck your running form, which in turn would lead to injuries down the line.
If you’re plagued by pain or injuries, chances are that your running form is not up to the mark. Most of the time we focus on the angle of our landing foot or our arm swing, but posture is perhaps even more important. You have to realize that when your posture isn’t right, you are causing undue stress to your musculature. Your body is constantly trying to compensate for its lack of stability, which may protect a weaker muscle, but is most probably overextending another.
The good news is that Pilates can help you overcome your weakness and improve your posture and movement patterns. As your posture improves, you’ll notice that you run more freely, cover more ground, and feel less fatigued. With regular work, you start understanding your body better. You begin appreciating how your movement patterns and the muscles involved in them contribute to your running form.
Injury Prevention and Rehab
So what causes running injuries? You have to understand that the human body is a complicated system. Your muscles work overtime when you exercise. Overwork them and you’ll feel the effects in the form of fatigue. But fatigue is not what causes injuries. As we’ve mentioned before, imbalance and lack of muscular control does.
When you run improperly, you are basically exerting excess pressure on your joints. This increases the risk of injury. The fact is that it is the muscles job to offer stability and flexibility to your movements. You need to work on them to protect against injuries. Taking a specific sports nutrition can also help as an addition to doing the right exercises.
Pilates works miracles in improving your rehabilitation time after injuries too. By strengthening your muscles and improving their flexibility, you are ensuring that when the time comes they are in a better condition to support recovery.
Improves the Mind-Body Connection
Running can be a chore if you aren’t in total control of your movements. You exert more effort with every step, your muscles and joints are under constant pressure – you’re just not doing it efficiently. The key is to improve your neuromuscular control over your body. You want to be able to feel every muscle work, control every movement. You want all the muscles to work in sync with each other so as to avoid instability which is the primary reason behind running-related injuries.
Pilates is not like other exercises in that one of its basic concepts is mindfulness. You concentrate on what you’re doing, on every movement, on the preciseness of every movement. You make sure your body is working in the way you want it too. Every repetitive movement is a way for you to gain control. You focus on your breathing along with movement patterns to promote mindfulness and relaxation. By concentrating on every breath and muscle movement, in time you can become in tune with body.
I have struggled with pain in my lower back and shoulders for many years and especially since having my two children. I started having 1:1 studio sessions with Nic in May and was amazed how much my movement improved, even after my first session. Nic is an amazing instructor, always encouraging and positive which has given me confidence in my own body strength and ability.
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