I wouldn’t consider myself an avid runner. On occasion, I do enjoy the excuse it gives me to spend time outside. Although it may seem basic as to why Pilates can be a nice addition to a runners exercise routine, there are actually a variety of reasons as to why it’s beneficial.
One easily overlooked reason is the focus on Breath. During a Pilates class, you will be guided to focus on certain breathing patterns which aid the movement you’re doing. This mindfulness of breath helps to increase deeper muscle activation. It also creates a general awareness which leads to training the body to use breath more automatically throughout any physical activity, including running. Learning to breathe from the diagram and challenging lung capacity are also great ways to better prepare the cardiovascular system for a run.
The work with posture in Pilates transfers positively towards running. The moving posture in running, referred to as gait, is important to athletes who want to run more efficiently. Running more efficiently means preventing injury or possibly increasing pace. Doing Pilates helps to strengthen the core, back and pelvis. This strengthening work aids in better supporting the spinal column. In conjunction with this, other exercises are incorporated to find better flexibility and articulation of the vertebrae. All of this combined helps you to stand taller, in better alignment, and with a healthier posture. Put this all together and it should transfer directly over to improved gait and more efficient running!
Another great reason is the nature of how Pilates works on strengthening the body as a whole, not as much isolating individual muscles. While running, it’s easy to dump the work load onto very specific muscle groups. The knees and ankles in particular can come under stress when certain muscles are used more than others. Developing underused muscles and getting the lower body to work better as a whole is a great way to prevent injury.
These are just a few of the many reasons why Pilates and Running pair well. To runners reading this, I hope you get excited to run more, give Pilates a try, or perhaps just be encouraged if you’re already doing both!