We were born to run…When children play almost every game involves some form of running. We run when we are in a hurry, when we are scared, when we have good news to share, or when we simply want to. Running is the most simple form of exercise and to most of us it comes naturally.

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As a physiotherapist, my main focus is treating sports injuries. The reality is that in spite of the simplicity of running, the prevalence of injuries in runners are much higher than in triathletes. This is evidence of the importance of cross-training.

The motion of running is a very repetitive form of exercise, using the same muscle groups over and over while neglecting important muscle groups and causing imbalances. Overuse injuries such as hip flexor or hamstring strains are very common amongst runners.

Pilates is a form of exercise focused on restoring balance in the body. In a forward running posture, our gluteal muscles cannot perform as they should and this often causes the hamstring to overwork itself. Pilates strengthens the core and back extensors for a more upright posture. In an upright position, our breathing is more efficient which will minimise the occurrence of a side stitch while running. Correcting muscle imbalances will improve running balance and is crucial for trail running.

Be on the lookout for my follow-up article next month. It will focus on 5 pilates exercises developed specifically for runners.

Lene Van Heerden

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