I was an avid runner who trained for marathons, and was also very focused on tennis, another high impact sport that places its own distinct set of stress on the body. I did not feel like I had the mind space to introduce Pilates into my exercise regime which was not such a wise decision on my part. If only I had listened to my intuition to include Pilates into my exercise repertoire and routine, I would have been in a better shape, and injury free. It’s never too late, and better late than never I suppose. 🙂
I was also one of those runners who didn’t stretch and I had extremely tight quadriceps, weak glutes and hamstrings. All of which I had no idea of, until I discovered Pilates. As a result, I often had knee pain after long distance running.
Why is Pilates so good for runners?
Engaging Your Core
Pilates strengthens your core (and not just the surface core muscles) and having a strong core is important for runners, especially when running uphill so that your lower back doesn’t take over and take the load. Having a strong core, which includes deeper muscles, is vital for breathing, flexibility, balance and endurance, all of which will complement strong legs and lungs to get the most out of a good run.
Strengthening and Stretching the Right Muscles
Running involves performing the same movement over and over and it creates muscular imbalances. This leads to overdeveloped quadriceps, and weak and tight underdeveloped muscles such as the hamstrings and glutes. Pilates exercises help strengthen the glutes and the back of the leg and it reduces injury, and improves running efficiency. Very often people think that stretching is all you need but strengthening the right muscles will actually contribute to better performance and protecting you from common injuries.
Correcting Posture Imbalances
Preventing injury and pain from running comes down to maintaining the correct posture and ensuring that muscles remain strong and flexible through the body. Pilates create a long and lengthened spine with strong and flexible surrounding muscles, which is great for runners. Practicing Pilates teaches you what a correct posture should be and how to use the correct muscles to maintain your posture. Your body will start to change naturally, and you mind will start to change subconsciously to remind you to be in the correct posture even when you’re running.
Developing Strong Lungs
As one of the six principles of Pilates, the breath is a foundation of Pilates movement. Runners think about training their heart and legs, but rarely think about training their lungs. A strong respiratory system can improve your running, allowing more oxygen for your muscles, which equates to more endurance. Pilates promotes lateral breathing and it emphasize expanding the breadth into the back and sides of the rib cage. It stretches your intercostal muscles, and lengthens your spine which will help your breathing and running.
I hope that more runners will not make the same mistake as I did, and embrace the benefits of Pilates and what it can do to enhance your running experience and journey. Pilates should be a complement to your other physical activities.