Why should you go to a Pilates for Runners class?
Pilates is all the rage. It helps all ages and all abilities as the exercises are adaptable. Pilates for runners is no different. Taking a class can specifically target those muscles used by runners.
Far from just a fad, however, Pilates classes are good for many aspects of athletic performance.
Pilates improves flexibility, core strength, and balance.
What do they do for runners?
Let’s find out.
Benefits of Pilates for Runners
Whether you’re running sprints or distances greater than a mile, you have to have muscular endurance.
If you go to Pilates, you’re in luck. The exercises will loosen your muscles in your hips, legs, and back.
Why’s this important?
Improved flexibility means your stride is more efficient and as a result, this leads to less muscle fatigue. If there’s less fatigue, as result, you can run for longer (which is a win!).
Pilates exercises can also involve a number of repetitions or they will make you hold a certain pose. This sustained style of exercise works the small and large muscles around the body and can help to improve endurance.
Pilates can supply your brain with exceptional benefits, some of which is really relevant to running.
For example, if you practice Pilates, you learn to voluntarily engage muscles in your abdomen.
Such a mental exercise improves your nervous system’s ability to communicate with your brain and other parts of your body.
The example above just mentions engaging your abs, but Pilates is a whole-body workout. If you’re able to focus on each exercise, this strengthens the connection with your brain and the muscles you are working. Ultimately, you’re wanting to create motorways between your brain and muscles. This is what Pilates can help with.
Improved joint flexibility
We probably don’t need to explain why joint health is important to runners (but we will, just so we’re all clear!).
You need your hips, knees and ankles in optimal condition if you want to run for a long time. Read here, here and here to learn how to check your knee range of movement, how to check your ankle flexibility and some great exercises to stretch out the hips.
What’s important to note is that joint range of movement is different for everybody. The person next to you in class may have completely the opposite range of movement to you, so please don’t compare yourself. Understand how your own body moves and check that you’ve got the same movement on each side.
Performing Pilates can elongate your muscles which, in turn, improves their elasticity while simultaneously improving the mobility of your joints.
Pilates can help preserve your body, especially those at-risk joints! (We feel it’s important to mention here that yoga is also a great way to improve joint flexibility, although we’re not covering this in this blog).
From respiratory power to breath control, it’s important to pay attention to your O2 intake when you hit the pavement.
Pilates exercises can help with just that as they also focus on breathing as well as movement. During each exercise, diaphragmatic breathing and lateral breathing are employed, both of which improve total oxygen intake and total carbon dioxide expiration.
Practising the diaphragm breathing during each exercise can help to improve your body’s ability to breathe efficiently and fluently when running.
Watch the video below of Claire, our physio explaining how to practice diaphragm breathing.
Runners require balance to keep from falling each time their feet strike the ground (of course the same could be said of anyone walking).
Improved balance enables us to run on terrain that’s not familiar, hilly, or otherwise tricky to navigate.
Pilates exercises will work on your balance, which means it’ll be easier for you to stand on one leg. If it’s easier to stand on one leg then, consequently, your body can focus on what you’re doing rather than trying to stay upright.
Pilates improves balance through increased coordination and control of your abdominal muscles which, in turn, improves the stability of the lumbar and pelvic regions.
Watch the video below of our physio Claire explaining a simple way to check the balance of your right and left leg. The scores she mentions are written below:
Checklist for balancing:
- Arms out wide
- Arms down by your sides
- Arms crossed
- Eyes shut – arms out wide
- Eyes shut – arms down by your sides
- Eyes shut – arms crossed
If you’re a runner, it’s easy to see how incorporating Pilates into your routine can drastically improve your performance.