Running is a great sport, social, healthy and rewarding but it has it's downsides
RUNNERS ARE PRONE TO INJURY
Running is a high impact sport which causes a lot of stress on the joints because of it's repetitive nature and that the fact that running only moves in one plane.
According to the New York Times 80% of runners will experience injuries every year and here is are just some of them:
a). Achilles Tendinitis caused by a lot of uphill running
b). Tight calf muscles from overuse, repetitive movement in one plane or flat feet
c). Plantar Fascitis can be caused by the continual pounding of feet on hard pavements
d). Shin Splints caused by overuse and incorrect alignment.
e) Iliotibial Band Syndrome can be caused by unstable hips, tight hip flexors and poor posture
f). Pulled muscles in the calf from tight hamstrings from overuse.
RUNNING IS ONE DIRECTIONAL AND REPETITIVE
The human body is designed to move in many directions and planes of movement - flexion, extension, lateral bending and rotation and running is one direction and repetitive. The human body is made of small and large muscles that work in unison when perfectly aligned. Once the body is over used it becomes unbalanced and unstable, the brain recognises this and brings in the larger muscles to compensate. Over time these muscles grow large and overtake the smaller muscles designed to stabilise and re-balance the body. This leads to inflexibility, injuries and pain.
BAD POSTURE, UNSTABLE HIPS AND WEAK CORE.
This is a typical picture of bad posture on a runner.
As you see, the runner's hips are tilted forward and sideways instead of in the correct position under the ribs, over the knees and ankles and this can lead to instability and injury to the knees,ankles and hip as well as lower back pain.
The lower spine has curve from the upper back to the base of the spine, causing the vertebrae (bones in the spine) compress towards the front of the body. The human spine should curve in a 'S' shape, not a wide 'C' curve.
The runner's chin is pushed downwards instead of being level to the horizon causing compression of the neck, as well as being jarred by the action of the feet.
The shoulders are being pushed up near his ears, instead of being in line with the hips and this impedes the Runner's action and speed.
More importantly the Runner's Powerhouse (the core) is almost non existent, buried under the ribs and behind the pelvis and is probably very weak. It should be slightly pushed forward driving the body like an engine.
The runner's legs are very developed, being the two drivers of the runner's body.
Rounded shoulders, weak Powerhouse, knees pulling forward under an unstable pelvis and a bent forward back.
The knees are not in line with the ankles, the hips are bent forward.
Again, only strong thighs doing all of the work.
HOW CAN PILATES HELP?
Pilates exercises are designed to work in three planes of movement - flexion, extension, rotations and side bends or Transverse, Lateral (Coronal) and Sagittal so that every part of the body is exercised, muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments are aligned correctly, maintaining the body's balance.
Pilates 34 exercises help the runner by neutralizing the one direction, repetitive movements of running so providing stability, flexibility, balance and strength so that the runner can run more efficiently and powerfully.
Pilates works the whole body by building the smaller, deeper internal muscles in the abdominals, lower back, hips and pelvic floor which is good for propulsion and making the body strong and healthy for functional movement. Speed and endurance is improved and if there is injuries there is a quicker recovery.
The core (Powerhouse) is strengthened and not just the 'Six Pack' by strengthening the deep postural muscles in front of the body which provides the power to drive the body forward.
The Psoas that connects the abdominal muscles to the deep hip flexors are strengthened to create hip stability, better hip flexion which helps avoid lower back pain.
The IT Band is strengthened which prevents knee pain against the shock waves caused by pounding pavements.
PILATES EXERCISES FOR THE RUNNER:
1). Side lying exercises - Leg Raises
2). Leg Circles
3). Four Point Swimming
4). Kneeling Side Bend
5). The Clam
6). Shoulder Bridge with ball
It is important that the runner works their Gluteus Medius (the smaller muscle at the side and top of the hip) as this stabilises the hips and the IT Band. This is a small muscle is vital to prevent back, knee and hip injury.
The Clam exercise is perfect for working this area.
The Shoulder Bridge is perfect for working the hip flexors, the gluteals, hips and core.
Finally, poor posture can have the biggest effect on the runner's body by impeding speed and leading to injury because of a weak core, unstable hips, knees and ankles.
The Pilates exercise the Swan can really help but opening the chest and back, strengthening the core, hips and gluteals.
Come and try a class!