Pilates is increasingly recommended as a great source of cross-training for anyone who runs regularly.
I was a runner way before I began Pilates and was plagued by niggling injuries for years – a dodgy knee would cause follow-on muscular problems for months, while my lack of flexibility limited my ROM and stride. Since taking up Pilates, my running has definitely improved – not least of all because I wobble and fall over far less often!
Common running issues include tight shoulder girdles and pectorals, tight hip flexors, overdeveloped quadriceps and illiotibial bands – all of which can lead to knee and back injuries. Pounding the pavement also tightens your back and hamstring muscles, thanks to the constant battle to keep the body upright and stable.
The mixture of core strength, plus posture control and range of movement in Pilates provides a great all-in-one option to improve your strength, stamina and to resist injury.
Here's 5 ways it pays to practise Pilates if you're a runner:
Pilates increases core strength. This means that deep abdominals are better equipped to help you balance while you run – important on hill work or sharp corners
Pilates promotes good posture and “neutral setup”. It promotes awareness of pelvic positioning, feet imprinting, relaxed shoulders and neutral spine – all of which will helps to elongates the spine, promoting more upright running
Is central to Pilates movements – rhythmic “lateral thoracic breathing” will help improve your breathing style, while the concentration and precision it requires helps with general mind/body connection
• Flexibility and range of motion
When running, certain muscles and joints can get overused and prone to strain – running is mostly in the Sagittal plane (you’re moving legs and arms forward and back), so hip flexors and quadriceps can quickly get tight/overdeveloped, illiotibial bands overused. Pilates ensures that limbs are lengthened and worked through their range of motion and that supporting muscles are strengthened
• Back issues
Runners can be prone to back pain, due to constant impact. Pilates moves help to open up the vertebrae and promote spinal strength and mobility