We take a look at how Pilates can have a positive effect on your running and protect you from injury
Running can take its toll on the body. Hours spent pounding the pavement, track or treadmill, , can have a detrimental effect on the body.
Good recovery is vital to avoid injuries that can hamper your training. Correct running shoe selection, ideal rest periods, nutrition and even clothing can help ward off a lot of problems. But what if you could get closer to bullet proofing your body whilst also improving your running without actually running…
Enter Pilates. Pilates can prepare you physically (and mentally) for any type of run and it can have considerable effect on helping to prevent injuries whilst shoring up any weaknesses and imbalances you might have. Here are some of the major benefits of Pilates for keen runners.
Stretching and flexibility will always be vital to any runner and you always hear runners talk about how they need to stretch and work on tight areas. What most runners won’t be aware of is that their muscles are likely weak or working overtime to compensate for imbalances.
Pilates can help by improving core and hip stability. Pilates can also help activate underperforming muscles, iron out any weaknesses and improve mobility. Through practice, Pilates can help decrease tightness and the feeling that you need to stretch everything out constantly.
Improvements in mobility and stability will help runners reach new PBs and ward off injury.
One of the basic principles of Pilates is breathing. As breathing can help you become more in tune with your body by promoting relaxation and improving oxygenation (crucial to improved brain and muscle function), with practice you can learn to identify problem areas, pain and soreness whilst also becoming more mindful of your body in general.
As Pilates is very much focused on mindful practices as well as flexibility and strength, you can learn to utilise breathing to manage and often control pain. Greater body awareness and good breathing technique during a run can help improve your performance and efficiency.
Becoming more aware of your body, helps you to understand what your body should feel like when you are moving correctly and how it feels to engage specific muscles. This will help you to identify when things aren’t working properly, are tight, restricted and sore.
Having this awareness of your body, what feels right and/or wrong will help you take steps to improve/manage issues, whilst also allowing you to know when to push yourself a bit harder, thereby improving your run and running times.
If you can stick to a regular Pilates routine, you will find that your recovery times are greatly improved post run. Pilates can help decrease recovery time as it helps to increase joint mobility and improves flexibility.
As Pilates encourages body awareness, you will be identifying potential problem before they arise, allowing you to take a proactive stance on treatment and recovery.
By maintaining a regular Pilates routine, you will find that your muscles are stronger and more flexible. You will be in better condition generally, and ultimately you will feel less tired and hurt a lot less after a run.
It is not uncommon for runners to begin to lose their posture the further into a run they get. As the body tires, it becomes increasingly hard to maintain a good body position.
This is compounded by lifestyles that require a lot of sitting at desks and a generally sedentary lifestyle.
How many times have you found yourself on a run, shoulders hunched over, back bent, almost collapsing in on yourself? How often have you seen it in other runners and checked your own posture as you run?
Sometimes it takes seeing others to realise you might be doing the same. What most runners don’t recognise is that their body is one complete, interconnected system.
When one area fails, the other areas, like a domino effect, fail as well. By losing good posture on a run, your legs start taking more of the burden, adding extra strain and potentially increasing the risk of injury.
Regular Pilates helps you to work on proper posture, it helps you to train proper alignment of head, neck, spine, and pelvis, it teaches you how to correct poor posture and to recognise when you aren’t properly aligned.
Pilates will help you to strengthen muscles with slow, deliberate movements, which will, in turn, allow you to maintain proper alignment throughout your run.
At the very least it will help you to identify when you are not in a good position and allow you to rectify as you run.
A key principle of Pilates is to blend balance with mobility along with breathing practices. As you get older you begin to see a decrease in balance.
This can be readdressed/tackled early with regular Pilates. By strengthening the course muscles and improving flexibility, Pilates can help keep you from falling and potentially hurt yourself.