Most runners feel their running activities alone provide them with a well rounded exercise program. However, while running is great cardiovascular work, it can lead to imbalances in the body. Those imbalances can sideline runners and must be addressed in order to continue the activity in a healthy and beneficial way. Pilates is an excellent complement to any runner’s routine as it can help strengthen muscles to allow for decrease stress on the body during running.
There are many different kinds of runners. There are marathoners and other distance cravers who may or may not be competitive; there are short distance runners who also may or may not compete and then there are casual runners who just try to fit in a few miles a week to keep their cardiovascular systems in good working order. No matter which type of runner, the same muscle groups are used to propel the body forward. Primarily the hip flexors to pull the top of the leg forward, the quadriceps to extend the knee then tibialis anterior to flex the foot and prepare to plant the forward foot. Once down, that leg is pulled back using the gluteus and hamstrings. The big issue here is that while in that running gait, the runner’s body is moving in the sagittal plane therefore the muscles that support movement in the horizontal and frontal planes are not challenged specifically.
Runners can exhibit imbalances in a number of different ways. Some may have tight hip flexors on one side and a tight IT band on the other due to an instability in the pelvic girdle. Some runners may have great quadriceps strength but poor hip strength causing asymmetries with each stride creating low back or knee pain. Pilates can also help runners with core strength so they can be more upright in their posture as well as with increase chest expansion allowing for improved breath functions.
The benefits runners have by using Pilates
- Increasing core strength and correcting postural imbalances
- Increasing balance in the muscles of the back and hips
- Increasing flexibility of LE and trunk musculature
- Increasing thoracic mobility
- Reduce the risk of injury
Of course there are many Pilates exercises that can complement a runner’s program. If you are looking to begin a Pilates based program designed for runners visit our website at pilatesinthegrove.com to learn more about our services and instructors or to register for one of our small group classes. You may also benefit from attending one-or-two private sessions to identify any specific needs your body may have and how Pilates can address those specific needs. We are currently located in Coconut Grove with our South Miami location opening this month. We hope to see you there!