6 Reasons Runners Benefit from Pilates

Running is a very high impact sport which places the joints under a lot of stress. It is a great exercise for improved cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance and toning but when practiced alone, especially in high volumes running can quickly take its toll on the body and niggles and injuries may start to appear.

Pilates is an excellent choice of complimentary training for a runner as it is very low impact so will not place the body under further stress while strengthening the very important core stabilising muscles and helping maintain good biomechanics under fatigue. If you think core strengthening is the only benefit you will reap from Pilates practise then think again because it may even improve your running performance!

Keep reading to discover the 6 reasons why you, as a runner need to add Pilates into your training mix.

1.Improve Mobility
Adequate joint mobility particularly around the hips is essential for a biomechanically sound running gait. Pilates exercises will not only engage the core but improve muscle length by moving the joints through their available ranges and applying stretch to shortened muscle groups. Runners are particularly prone to tight hip flexors which will inhibit stride length, so by targeting these problem muscle groups a more fluid running pattern and greater ease with stride can be achieved.

2.Improve Core Strength
With a focus on engaging the core when performing all exercises, Pilates will promote development of sufficient core stability. A common misconception is that the core is just the abdominals; but it includes the stabilising muscles of the hips, back, shoulders and neck. For runners it is particularly important to have strong lower abdominals and hip stabilising muscles so that excess stress isn’t placed through the lower back and lower limb joints which can lead to injury. Learning correct engagement of the core muscles around the back, neck and shoulders also promotes upper body relaxation and a more upright running posture.

3.Injury Prevention/Management
The best treatment for any running injury is prevention, which is something Pilates practice can most definitely assist in. If you are prone to particular niggles or one of the Ten most common running injuries, Pilates can also be a very effective part of your injury rehabilitation and management. To Avoid injury pilates will help to identify and correct imbalances which may put you at risk of injury by practising movements with the correct pattern to retrain the correct muscle engagement.

4.Enhance Performance
You may not have thought it but pilates could also help you run faster! By identifying your weaknesses which may be inhibiting your running gait these can be targeted and strengthened using specific pilates exercises. Pilates improves kinaesthetic awareness as exercises can be made functional to running gait and further improve running efficiency. Having better body awareness and the ability to relax and maintain form under fatigue will help to shave seconds off your PBs.

5.Improve Breathing control
Pilates places a strong focus on synchronising breath with movement and promotes diaphragmatic expansion. Learning to control your breathing with pilates will translate to being able to Breathe Right during running. Having the ability to control your breathing improves your focus, allows the diaphragm to fully expand which allows for better oxygenation through the bloodstream to increase endurance and slow onset of fatigue.

6.Promote Recovery
Pilates exercises are low impact and promote blood flow so will help reverse any negative side effects such as muscle soreness and tightening which may occur after a long run or quality training session. Instead of the muscles constantly shortening during running, Pilates will assist with muscle lengthening to improve joint mobility and flexibility. While recovering from an injury Pilates is an ideal cross training choice as it will assist with your rehabilitation without putting your joints under any further stress and even decrease your recovery time so you can get back to running sooner.


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