Is Pilates good for Running? The short answer is YES!
Pilates has countless benefits, ranging from addressing posture, strengthening the powerhouse (Glutes, Abdominals, and Lower Back muscles) coined by Joseph Pilates himself, increasing flexibility, and rehabbing certain injuries.
My journey with Pilates started 10 years ago, I was always a runner but I didn’t pay much attention to stretching and strengthening the body. This was before I became a Running Coach. I just put the runners on and away I went. I was almost a decade younger and probably a little more complacent, that was until I got injured.
I was training for the Dublin marathon and started to have knee pain, known as Runner’s Knee or better known as Patella Femoral. I actually thought it was quite cool to have an injury known as Runner’s Knee ?
After the injury, I sought out help via a Physio and then discovered Pilates. To be honest, at first, I didn’t particularly like it. It was slow, a lot of attention and concentration were required and control and breathing were essential elements. I was always a faster-paced individual, however the balance that Pilates brought was slowly starting to reel me in.
After just a few short weeks, I couldn’t believe how much stronger I felt. My running was improving and I felt generally better.
Fast forward 10 years and I have had practically no injuries (apart from returning after pregnancy, which was purely down to impatience).
Pilates is an amazing regime of control, it teaches you how to move your body in a more fluid way. The breathing style is deep and slow with attention to inhalation and exhalation which is very transferrable to running.
Pilates stretches the entire body and allows full range of movement from all body parts. This in turn will help runners with their posture and body positioning.
If for example, you have a forward lean due to a sedentary job, this lean will stay with you when you run, which will round out the back and shorten the chest muscles which in turn makes it harder to breathe when you run. Pilates can help to correct that posture by using back extension exercises and this will help to get the chest open.
The Powerhouse is where all the exercises in Pilates should be coming from, as previously mentioned the abs, back, and bum. Runners need stability and strength when they run, weak glutes (bum muscles) can be a big component of back, hips, and lower leg injuries. Pilates focuses all movements from the Powerhouse
The breathing in Pilates has changed slightly, Joseph Pilates himself always advised, in through the nose and out through the nose, nasal breathing, in a lateral style which expands through the ribcage, however, it has been taught more commonly by breathing through the nose and out through the mouth.
Either way, it’s the concentration to breathing in Pilates that is important, and equally so when running. If you’re panting and breathing heavily from the chest, you will run out of steam pretty quickly. Try to relax and control your breathing, also throw in a few nasal style breaths when you run and learn to challenge your lungs.
Flexibility is a huge benefit when running. If your muscles are stiff and tight, chances are, injuries will start to creep in. Stretching both dynamically and statically is very important and that is most certainly one of the many gifts that Pilates can bring.
I could go on forever on how amazing Pilates is for Running, but why not try it yourself and feel the benefits.
Let’s run with a spring in our step and experience the joy of flexibility and longevity.
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