Running is a great form of exercise that is easily accessible to anyone who owns a pair of gym shoes. Whether you run to meet your daily cardio requirements, run to raise money for charities in 5K and 10K races or run marathons, Pilates can help improve your form and overall health.
Running involves a lot of repetitive motion and impact on your joints. These two factors combined can lead to muscular asymmetries, which can further lead to injuries and/or chronic pain. Typically, runners have very strong quadricep muscles, very tight IT bands and potentially weak cores. To remain healthy, these tightnesses and imbalances need to be addressed by some sort of cross-training. If you address common imbalances early, you may save yourself from more extensive physical therapy post-injury.
Some examples of Pilates exercises that may help stabilize runners joints and minimize future hip, knee and alignment injuries include side leg lifts and footwork on the Pilates reformer. Side leg lifts, or the side leg series can be performed without any equipment. All one has to do is lie on one’s side and place your head on your arm with your hips stacked and legs forward about 45 degrees from your pelvis. Without allowing one’s side to collapse into the floor, one then begins to lift and lower the top leg parallel to the floor. This exercise will help to stabilize one’s pelvis. A stable pelvis will help minimize the effects of shear impact on the rest of the leg (knee and ankle joints).
Footwork on the Pilates reformer requires one to own Pilates equipment or seek out a Pilates instructor. This exercise focuses on strengthening the vastus medialis oblique muscle in the leg, which stabilizes one’s knee joint. Since runners often have overdeveloped quadriceps, this muscle needs to be even stronger to maintain a balance between these leg muscles.
Beyond these exercises, further core conditioning can help to keep runners posture upright and backs pain free. Pilates focuses on strengthening the upper back and preventing hunched shoulders, as well as strengthening the deepest layer of the abdominals, the transversus abdominus, which can help stabilize your back and can help you retain your balance in stride.
Have you tried Pilates to improve your running form and health? Try 10 side leg lifts on each side today!