If you’re a runner you know how good it feels when you have a good run (no pain, effortless breathing, that after-run-glow). BUT it does suck when you get hit with pain, injuries or roadblocks to stopping your improvement and progression. Is pilates good for runners? It certainly can help you with injury prevention and management, as well as improve your flexibility, strength and speed. Read on to learn the details and some poses you can do at home to help you along your way!
Let’s be honest, the word cardio can scare away even the most dedicated fitness junkie. But for those who consider themselves ‘runners’ know all too well the health benefits that a 30-minute session can have on their life. It’s true that running decreases the risk of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and even cancer! But with all things in life that offer great benefit there are often great risks too. Running isn’t an exception. It comes with a plethora of well-known aches and injuries seasoned athletes know all too well. If you love hitting the pavement and want to decrease your risk of injury, strengthen your muscles, increase flexibility and take a few minutes off your track time pilates exercise may be the weekly fix you are needing.
Pilates exercise has a myriad of benefits to offer everyone, but is particularly valuable to a runner due to the principles behind the method. Pilates can strengthen the diaphragm, stretch out tight muscles and through correct core engagement improves posture. Running with correct posture is key to performance, and through Pilates exercise runners can develop a stronger core, increased pelvic stability, balance and flexibility. Performance Improvements that runners can gain through regular exercise are; improved lap time, increased body awareness, improved endurance and running without pain.
The basic principles of Pilates begin with breathing. Developing a technique of deeper breathing eliminates shallow breath and improves running performance.
Hips & Hammies
Pilates exercise can improve flexibility in hip flexors and hamstrings offering greater range of movement, often improving running technique and improving lap time. Pilates exercise creates muscle balance and allows for stronger muscles and increased endurance for runners.
Adductors, Abductors & Quads
The Pilates method strengthens adductors, abductors and quadriceps helping to stabilise the knee joint, and aid in the prevention of knee injuries down the track.
Pilates exercise helps to elongate and align the spine allowing for faster recovery after injury.
Here are some moves runners can incorporate daily into their at home stretch and/or warm up routine to enhance their training.
Side kick kneeling
- strengthens core
- you will notice the improvement in uphill/downhill sprints
- To get into the side position, kneel and place your left hand on the floor to your side, directly under your shoulder
- Extend your right leg to the same heigh as your hip, keeping it parallel to the floor
- You can experiment with sweeping the leg up and down, forward and back and circling in both directions
- One cycle is 10 reps. Repeat for three cycles, switch legs and repeat.
- Strengthens oblique muscles, core and legs
- Offers a stretch for your hips
- You will notice the difference in upper back muscles once the core is holding the mid and upper back upright
- You will notice improved stride as hips become more flexible
- Lying on your back, pull your knees into your chest.
- Reach your legs up, feet flat to the ceiling and squeeze your legs together
- Reach your legs over to the right, it is OK if the hips to lift from the floor
- Move legs back to centre, still engaging the inner thighs together, and ensuring your lower back is pressed to the floor
- Reach legs over to the left and then back to centre
- This is one rep, repeat 10 times.
- A predominantly chest opening exercise that also activates glutes, hamstrings, calves and adductors
- You will notice the difference in breathing as you increase your lung capacity and take longer breaths offering an improvement on endurance
Running is a fantastic exercise that requires endurance, muscle strength, correct breathing and technique. There are many benefits of Pilates especially for runners, most notably improved breathing, reduced pain and injuries, stronger muscles, increased flexibility and postural improvements. If you haven’t tried Pilates yet and you’re a regular runner it might be time to give it a go and see for yourself what you have to gain through regular participation.
Would you like to put more of a focus on improving your running through pilates? Call or email us to find the right class and location for you. We’ve got specialised trainers who can help make sure you get the most out of each class and can accommodate injuries. We also have one on one instruction available if you want that more personalised touch!
Written by Shari Cisneros – Strathpine Partner