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Hello, my name’s Natasha and I’m an injured runner

Hello, my name’s Natasha and I’m an injured runner
Injured runner

Via Instagram @romangal30

Injuries… we all have to deal with them at some point in our lives!

What runners sometimes forget – and I’ll admit that I was one of them – is that because running is such a high impact sport, it can cause a lot of stress on your joints and is therefore quite a degenerative sport (More so for road running than trail! #JustSaying). It doesn’t build muscle – in fact, work your body hard enough without sufficient recovery or nutrition and it will actually begin to break DOWN.

That’s where I am at the moment.

I’ve been diagnosed with a Grade 1 Hip Dysplasia. At first, it may not sound like much to you or me, but delve a little deeper and you will realize the seriousness – well, I found it pretty serious anyway. In lamest terms, Hip Dysplasia is basically where your “hip socket does not completely cover the ball-like attachment of your leg…”, i.e., the femoral head. This will therefore place added pressure on the hip joint and can eventually result in ‘abnormal’ wear-and-tear; pain and arthritis – and I’m only 27!

I’ve basically been told not to run anything further than 20kms – so I can say good bye to the Ultra trail races I had planned for the rest of the year; AND I have to make rehab and strength work part of my weekly training program. JOY.

Running InjuriesAfter asking the doc what would be the best way to incorporate this ‘stuff’ without dying of boredom she recommended Yoga or Pilates… seriously?!

But after doing a bit of research into the two and realizing the benefits they possess, you will actually start questioning WHY no-one tells you this information when you buy your first pair of long distance running shoes!

These two pretzel-forming sports can in fact, help make you more than just flexible. They can also build strength that will help keep all those niggles and injuries at bay! They help improve your breathing and posture, and will therefore make a huge positive impact on how we run, thereby improving our efficiency during our runs, i.e. making us more efficient runners! (Insert lightbulb moment here! ?) Personally, I’ve come to realize – and experience – that most running injuries derive from some sort of muscle imbalance or weakness in the body. Whether it be in the core, pelvis, glutes etc. – ALL form the main HUB which helps drive us forward and determines how we run.

Yoga or Pilates – What about “Yogalates”?

I’ve decided to combine the two purely so that I can try and get the best of both worlds whilst trying to get over this ‘bump’ on the trail (And also because I’m naturally an over-achiever like that! ?). I gain the benefits from a great yoga-lengthening and stretching session; as well as the ‘faster pace’ of the pilates-strengthening movements – without adding any stress on my hips.

These are just a few of the poses that I have started focusing on in order to try and build core and pelvic strength, increase flexibility and reduce stress. (I also now go to Pilates classes to get the added benefit of having a professional train me!)

Bridge Pose:

 Bridge Pose


Great for building strength in the glutes and hamstrings, as well as stretching out the hip flexors, abs and chest – what every runner needs!
It is very important to concentrate on how you go into and out of this exercise! Inhale to prepare, and then exhale to start from your tailbone and raise each vertebra off the floor – one at a time until you are in the bridge position. Simply hold the position for three rounds of ten breaths, and then slowly lower yourself back down, again making sure that you are lowering one vertebra at a time to the floor. You can eventually progress into a one-leg Bridge or Marching Bridges!

Warrior III:

Warrior III


Great for strengthening the lower legs, hips and core, as well as build balance.
All you really need to do is concentrate on your breathing! Inhale and slowly balance on one leg. Ensure that you keep your pelvis straight, hips in line with each other and then dip up and down five times. Hold the last dip for 5 – 10 breaths, and then switch legs.


Cross-legged twist


Cross-Legged Twist:

One of my favourites! This amazing little number rotates the spine; and stretches out the hips.
Again, it is vital to concentrate on keeping the hips straight on the floor, and then hold the pose for 5 – 15 breaths on each side.


Legs Up the Wall:

Legs up the wall


A great stretch for your hamstrings and chest, and a position that I usually like to finish my entire routine with – even occasionally after runs!
Just relax and hold for as long as you want… While we are on the topic of stretches, another great stretch to do for tight hamstrings is the Downward Facing Dog!





This is an awesome exercise to work the glutes and hip flexors; hip mobility as well as increase your core strength!
Basically lie on your side, knees bent with heels squeezed together. Lift your top knee as high as possible without moving your pelvis and keeping the heels together! Lower the knee and repeat 10 -15 times. Do 2 – 3 reps on the one side first and then switch sides. Start without any equipment and then eventually progress to using a resistance band around the lower thighs.


Leg Circles:

Leg Circles


This is another exercise that works the glutes, and increases core strength and hip mobility.
Lie on one side with your hip bones aligned on top of each other, legs slightly in front of torso, lift leg to hip height and make small circles with top leg. Reverse direction of circles – do about 20 circles altogether. Lower leg and repeat on other side.




A GREAT chest-opening exercise that stretches the core and spine. It teaches you how to use all your leg muscles and maintain a healthy stride.
Lie face down on your mat, arms bent 90 degrees at shoulder height. Press hands into mat and press the balls of your feet into the floor. Slide shoulder blades down the back of  your ribcage then straighten arms and press torso forward, lifting off the floor as your elbows rotate inward. Bend the elbows, keeping the shoulder blades wide and lower to starting position. Repeat about five times. Once you are more comfortable with the exercise, you can try and rock forward – as seen in the second image!




This exercise works your core, obliques, legs and hips.
Lie on your back, and pull your knees to the chest. Reach your legs up to the ceiling whilst tightly squeezing them together in order to ‘wake up’ those inner thigh muscles! Reach the legs over to the right, allowing the hips to lift away from the floor first, but ensuring that the shoulders stay grounded – and then return back to the centre. Always remember to keep the core engaged so that the lower back doesn’t lift off the floor! Repeat the movement to the left. This counts as one rep. Repeat about 10 times.

Baby steps …

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 7.03.02 AM

Via Instagram @romangal30

Currently I am in a ‘happy place’ again – the deep glute pain that I had been suffering with constantly for well over four or five months has almost disappeared; I have slowly started running again; and I am actually starting to feel stronger during the hill climbs thanks to the strength work I am doing at least 2 – 3 times a week!
Contrary to what I thought a few weeks ago, there really is a silver lining to most gloomy situations; and I really am starting to believe in the saying that “What doesn’t kill us, will make us stronger!”


Game plan for the rest of the year?

For now, I plan on becoming one strong-ass 20km trail runner!! Watch this space!! 😉

Namaste …


icon-thumb-tack Pilates Positions and Images >>

 Yoga Positions and Images >>

Natasha Papini

Blogger at UltraRunner ZA
Trail running junkie, workaholic, health nut - in that order!

To call me an "outdoorsy-person" is an understatement! I run to maintain sanity and see places normal folk wouldn't normally get to experience

Latest posts by Natasha Papini (see all)

About The Author

Trail running junkie, workaholic, health nut - in that order! To call me an "outdoorsy-person" is an understatement! I run to maintain sanity and see places normal folk wouldn't normally get to experience


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