Pilates and running are two exercise disciplines that on their own make sense. But just as peanut butter is good on its own, it becomes better when you add jam. Jam is the Pilates of running, making your running style, speed and endurance just that little bit sweeter.
The benefits that Pilates can have on runners include increased strength, body awareness, joint mobility, improved flexibility, effective breathing patterns and injury prevention and rehabilitation. Allow me to explain further:
Pilates allows you to develop a strong core by supporting and strengthening the muscles of the torso, hips, shoulders and pelvis. This strength leads to a huge positive difference in your posture, balance and stability.
Imagine for a second two trees. The one has a small weak trunk whilst the other has a big strong trunk. A storm hits them both, which of these trees do you think will withstand the force of the storm? The big strong one, right? This is the same as our cores. If you have a strong core your body is far more likely to be able to weather the beating that it takes on your runs.
Pilates is also a full body workout and strengthens muscles in your arms and legs. Pilates creates lean muscles, which will allow you to run faster than your counterparts with bulky muscles, hence improve your speed.
The core strength acquired through Pilates not only allows your body to deal with the impact of running, but as mentioned, it also improves posture, balance and stability. This will help you (as a runner) distribute the force of running throughout the body more efficiently, instead of just dumping it all onto a few muscles. As a result, they won't feel nearly as sore after a hard run.
2. Pilates creates body awareness
Being aware of how your body works for you is really important as a runner. You need to know how to be able to use your body correctly in order to be faster, comfortable and more effective in your running style. Through carefully formulated exercises, Pilates teaches you to use your body correctly, engaging the correct muscles at the correct times.
Pilates also teaches you to stretch appropriately, teaching your body what a correct and incorrect stretch should feel like. Small changes in how you stretch will impact hugely on your body. Insufficiently stretched muscles can cause many problems as a runner, such as slowing you down.
3. Joint mobility and improved flexibility
Pilates is known to improve your mobility and flexibility, but if you are a runner and not a dancer or a gymnast, why should you care, right? Wrong! Any runner knows that the key to developing your speed is to take more steps faster (stride frequency) and to take as big a step as you can (stride length). As an example, Pilates will create more mobility in your quadriceps, which will allow you to pull your leg forward faster, equaling an effortless and effective turnover. Joint and muscle mobility will also directly influence the length of your stride. A tight muscle will inhibit movement; therefore a tight calf will mean your strides are smaller.
4. Prevention of injuries
Pilates prevents injuries. Not only does Pilates teaches you to engage your muscles correctly, but strong and flexible muscles also means that you recover from your runs a lot faster preventing tired, stiff and fatigued muscles. Pilates also teaches you correct body alignment, which is important in the prevention of injuries, such as Runners Knee.
Pilates not only prevents muscle injuries, but can also aid in the rehabilitation of injuries. ITB for example, will very rarely be cured without corrective rehabilitation. 9 times out of 10 Physiotherapists will insist that you start Pilates for the rehabilitation.
Just like stretching, Pilates helps runners focus on their breathing. This benefit is synergistic with the stretching because if you are able to engage your core whilst you are running it will help the intercostal muscles that connect to the ribs. This makes it easier to breathe smoothly using your full lung capacity.
Imagine how different your running style could be if you added the Pilates. To improve your strength, body awareness, flexibility and mobility and breathing technique, book into one of our studios.