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HEALTH Pilates for running


Pilates for running

Margaret Fitzgibbon

For decades, many runners believed that the more they ran the better they got at it, which is logical enough. However, while running is a great cardiovascular workout, it can lead to imbalances in the body.
When running, the body endures constant impact with the force of each step travelling up from the legs to the lower back and rib cage. Body asymmetries (irregularities) can develop because of poor body mechanics.
Common running injuries stem from tight, weak hips, and typical muscle weakness and imbalances in the abdominals, gluteals and leg stabilisers. This can result in a variety of ailments, from lower back pain to hip and knee problems.
According to experts and runners, just one Pilates workout each week will make a difference. You don’t even have to do Pilates every day to see results!
The aim of Pilates is to acquire core strength, improve breathing, flexibility and balance and promote ideal postural alignment. These will help the runner distribute the force of activity throughout the body more efficiently, which is the ethos behind preventing and overcoming repetitive strain injuries.
Joseph Pilates believed that the key to good fitness was to use precise, controlled movements using the body’s own weight. His exercises focus on breath control, concentration on the overall movements required, and the proper alignment of the body.
As in all types of training, consistency will produce results and research has shown that a six week core-strength programme reduced participants’ 5km times by approximately one minute.

Pilates can

  • Strengthen back and abdominal muscles/core strength
  • Lengthen and align the spine
  • Expand the diaphragm for better oxygenation and endurance
  • Increase the mind body connection/body awareness
  • Increase range of motion, flexibility and balance
  • Address muscle imbalances in the gluteal area
  • Reduce repetitive strain injuries and pain

These benefits can reduce injury and pain, which may also improve your time and your overall enjoyment of running.

Margaret Fitzgibbon, is a Chartered Physiotherapist with Westport Physiotherapy Clinic.