The Secret to Injury Free Movement
Running is a cheap, easy, and efficient way to get a good work out. And with busy schedules, you feel like you’re on a treadmill anyway, so why not run?
In a word, injuries. Reports of injury rates among runners varies, but 46% is ballpark. That might make you think twice about running. Hundreds of articles devoted to injury prevention laud cross training as the solution to keep runners injury free. And cross training is important no matter what kind of aerobic exercise you choose. So what’s the best cross training exercise?
Yoga and Pilates are both great for cross training. They have many common benefits that appeal to runners. Each incorporates breathing techniques that strengthen muscles of respiration to deliver oxygen to the tissues more efficiently. Both help you develop long lean musculature to address the muscle tightness that often plagues runners.
But which is better for your body and mind?
YOGA for Runners:
People often say: “I can’t do yoga,
my muscles and joints are too tight.”
This is precisely the body that could
benefit from yoga! Yoga can make
tight muscles supple and increase
range of motion across joints.
Another huge benefit of yoga is
developing greater awareness. A
good instructor teaches students to
tune in, go inside, and feel the
stretch as they hold a pose. As
awareness of bodily sensations
increases, practitioners gradually
learn how to find the sweet spot
between not enough and too much
intensity. That internal awareness is
key to achieving peak running
performance without injury.
Balance: Yoga improves balance. Holding a pose fosters not only improved general balance, but also balance between different muscle groups – hamstrings and quads for example. As you increase awareness of your own body’s asymmetries, you’ll be able to open up tight lines through your body to create the symmetry that makes running an elegant endeavor.
Yoga helps calm the nervous system following the spike in cortisol after a tough run (or any stressful event). The meditation aspects of yoga have stress relieving qualities that go well beyond the mat. A study in Biological Psychology demonstrated decreased cortisol levels and a self reported decrease in stress after just 8 weeks of yoga.
Pilates for Runners:
Pilates is wonderfully suited for those who are more flexible and need to develop the stability behind their mobility. Pilates students strive for complete and focused muscle control. A study of 40 runners showed marked improvements in functional movement patterns after just 6 weeks of Pilates compared with the control group.
Pilates builds mental strength – a
necessary attribute for athletes of
all kinds, but particularly distance
runners. If you are an aerobic
junkie, but abhor the words core
strength, join a Pilates class. Who
knew there were so many ways to
activate the core without doing a
single sit up? And when we say
core, we mean hips, abdominals,
spinal stabilizers – the whole
In a reformer class, tension can be
adjusted to assist or resist a given
movement as needed. The focus is on clean form and activating the intended muscles. The precise, controlled technique combined with rhythmic breathing fosters graceful movement. An hour zips by before you even know it.
Running is wonderful exercise. If you want to start running or continue running without injuries, cross training is a must. ALTA has both Yoga and Pilates classes and privates. Ask your therapist what’s best for you, and start training now. 2018 can be your healthiest year yet, and we’re here to help make it happen.