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Running. The importance of balance.

Posted Apr 08 2013 9:15pm

Running can be addicting!  Even when you go outside and struggle during the run, after it's over you feel pretty delighted. You have a sense of accomplishment and the endorphins are flowing. I laughed today in the car with a co-worker and good friend of mine who was a NON-EXERCISER when we met and tried running a few years ago and found little desire and even less like for it, when she said, "I want to run again today!"  She is now properly training for her first 10 miler and ran her first 7 miles yesterday She even texted me immediately after the 7 miles saying, "That was awful!" but somehow today she wants back at it.  Her and I have sat down and discussed training properly, progressions, and mile accumulation and she knows that running today isn't part of the plan but sometimes it's addicting.  
Sticking to training plans and not overdoing it can be hard but it lends to a healthier body and less likeliness of injury. Not only is not overdoing it important, but finding balance between running, stretching, and cross-training so that your body can find ease in movement and STAY HEALTHY is VERY important.  When I work with runners (which most of my clients run to some extent) we work a lot on balance. Balance in the Pilates world has two meanings; 

1) In the traditional meaning of the word; a state of equilibrium, equal distribution of weight. 

2 Uniform and symmetrical muscular development and action from one side of the body to the other or a synergistic action between the upper and lower portions of the body, and the front and back sides of the body (Fletcher Pilates definition of balance).


Balance in everyone, especially runners is of utmost important.  Uniformity in muscular strength from side to side allows the body to move with fluidity and then no muscle has to do more than it is supposed to do.  When muscular imbalances occur it often results in injury, compensation patterns (typically overworking of big muscles for the lack of strength of smaller muscles), pain and poor form.  When thinking about running, it moves us in the forward direction but requires the muscles on the back of our body and on the sides to work (inside and outside, specifically of the legs to work), so.... When not running we need to be working exercises that work those muscles to bring balance to the body.

How to do this?

Seek out other forms of exercise besides running that move the body through all planes of motion, yoga and Pilates are great for this!  

When strength training make sure your program includes exercises for the back line of your body and the side lines. Examples; prone back extensions, deadlifts, lateral leg raises, abduction and adduction work (inner and outer thigh exercises), clams ( see this post) .

When exercising, say doing lunges or squats watch your legs to make sure you are performing them in good form.  If muscle imbalances do exist and we exercise in poor form we will only continue into those patterns rather than work to improve our muscular balance.

Stretch! 

If you aren't sure how do this on your own seek out a professional, like a Pilates teacher or Personal trainer to help you develop a program to fit your muscular balance or imbalances.

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