It’s the time of year when many runners step up their training in anticipation of up and coming marathons. Unfortunately, this is also the time when injuries can occur. There are several reasons for this, many of which could be avoided if a little bit of extra time and care are taken.
Warming up properly and incrementing the length of your training sessions slowly (and remembering to warm down again after a session) could be the difference in taking part or obtaining an injury and missing race day.
Muddy uneven ground is also a seasonal injury hazard which is something that is hard to avoid. My advice here is to find out where your local running track is, and see if you’re able to use it. Another top tip is to check out local cycle paths as many of these now have compounded dirt tracks that are solid under foot and therefore safer to run on.
Did you also know that Pilates can help with your training?
Coordination and balance is a key technique to get right. When these two things are worked on, the risk of falls and possible ankle sprains are minimised.
In addition you must consider your core strength. By strengthening core muscles, which are often weak, you are supporting the back muscles and, more importantly for runners, you are helping to create a strong centre. This enables you to propel your centre of mass (your torso) forward without swinging from side to side. This is the most energy efficient way to run. Mastering this skill could improve your run times dramatically. Think of the familiar images we’ve seen of Paula Radcliffe running. Her torso hardly appears to move at all. Professional athletes have an understanding of the mechanics of running and work on strengthening their core muscles.
Then we have strength and flexibility. Pilates is very much a holistic ideal. As instructors we look for muscle imbalances, strengths, weaknesses, range of movements, breathing patterns and then address what has been highlighted. Stretching is incorporated as a matter course. For runners, certain muscles groups such as the hamstrings at the back of the legs often aren’t stretched out enough leading to tightness and shortening. This often leads to imbalances, and maybe injury.
Finally Pilates can help improve spinal flexibility. Our spines are amazing. We have over 120 muscles in our spines, approximately 220 ligaments and over 100 joints that allow for extreme flexibility and range of movement. Unfortunately, we live in a very hunched ‘flexed’ world and are often sedentary for sustained periods, for example sitting at a desk at work. When our bodies are aligned correctly, we have muscle balance and this minimises the risk of back pain.
When considering all this, it is easy to see why things can tighten or weaken and become unbalanced. If you experience back pain during or after a run it is a clear message from your body that something needs to be addressed. There will be a reason, and by including a Pilates workout in your marathon training there is a chance that any issues will be addressed, worked on and resolved.
And if you need any more persuading, Pilates is also versatile and enjoyable.