Pilates for Runners
It is no doubt running is a great way to improve and maintain good cardiovascular health. Its also useful for weight loss, creating headspace, and with many available competitions and events, it can be a great way to meet new people.
However, running is typically known for creating asymmetries throughout the body and causing muscle imbalances. Some muscles get overused and become tight, while others are underused and become weak. These imbalances can result in lower back pain and problematic knees and hips. All of which can be avoided.
Preventing injury and pain from running all comes down to maintaining correct posture, and ensuring muscles remain both strong and flexible, throughout the body. This is equally as important for competitive runners as it is for casual joggers. Any kind of running can create muscular imbalances!
Commonly overused and tight muscles for runners are the hamstring muscles, in the back of the thighs, and the calf muscles in the posterior lower leg. When these muscles get tight they classically cause lots of knee and hip pain, preventing you from continuing to run (see below for some at home prevention exercises). The severity of the imbalance can vary, however any imbalance will effect the way you move whilst running, and will negatively impact upon your joints.
So how can pilates help? Pilates is typically known for its benefits with core strength and helping aid recovery from back injury. Core strength plays an important role in posture around the lower back and pelvis area, a crucial area to be stable for runners. Along side this, pilates creates a long and lengthened spine, with strong and flexible surrounding muscles. Perfect for runners.
Pilates will not only increase the flexibility and maintain the length in the hamstring and calf muscles (as spoken about earlier), but it will improve upon your posture collectively. Making you a more efficient runner, and preventing injury.
Pilates teaches you what correct posture should be, and how to use the correct muscles to maintain that posture. Then, the more classes you attend the stronger your body will become in the correct position. So, for the first few classes you may be consciously thinking about correct posture. But, with time, your body will start to change naturally and your mind will subconsciously tell you to be in the correct posture. Improving posture is not an overnight change. It takes time and thought, but Pilates will guide you all the way and will provide many other benefits along side the posture change.