My only experience with physical therapy was five years ago for knee pain from my first attempt at marathon training. Part of my therapy sessions included the jack knife pile on a medicine ball, which I hated! They were so hard, and I couldn’t figure out how that exercise could possibly be tied to my knee pain. But I respected my PT, and did what he said.
In retrospect, it wasn’t the running that did me in, it was the lack of balancing my running with any other strength exercise. Not least of which was my core.
I wish I had known then what I know now. Not only does a strong core help to prevent injury, it can actually make us stronger runners. Strengthening the core muscles can provide more stability, better balance and improved posture, all of which leads to greater endurance and a better running technique according to this article. That means we can be more efficient while also decreasing our risk for injury.
Since learning my lesson the hard way, I have maintained some sort of core routine, usually 3 times a week. Sometimes I only have time for a few rounds of sit ups and push ups, other days I include a wider range of exercises like those outlined here: planks, side planks oblique twists, back bridge, and supermans. And occasionally, I make it to a class that incorporates core strength- Yoga, Body Pump, and finally this week, Pilates.
I haven’t been back to Pilates since before I was pregnant, so I’m counting my class this week as my May New 2 U Cross Training challenge with Kim. The instructor was a substitute, and not as challenging as I had hoped, but I came away with a happier core. It’s still hard for me to not feel like I’m “wasting” an hour of exercise when I’m not sweating, but I know it pays off.
Pilates is also beneficial for runners. Pilates is especially helpful if you have:
- weak inner thighs
- hips that drop or twist when you run
- tight hamstrings, calves, hips or IT bands (What runner doesn’t have tight hamstrings?!)
You can find other Fitness Friday posts at Jill’s link up! Do you pay attention to your core? What does your core routine look like?