If you’re a runner, then it’s high time that you discovered Pilates. The benefits of regularly practising it are plentiful for athletes and in this article I’m going to share them with you. I’m sure that you’ll agree with me that all runners would benefit from a regular session!
Pilates is an exercise built around slow flowing movements. All movements are done with control, which results in the building of strength, but not big bulky muscles. In fact, dancers are very keen on practising it as it is ideal to stretch and keep their muscles in good shape without building them up like body builders.
The New Zealand All Blacks are crazy about Pilates too, but that’s another story for another time.
Going back to runners, it was not apparent initially how ideal Pilates is for the runner. Not only does it reduce muscle soreness but it will protect against injury. Now runners are relying on the exercise to enable them to increase their performance.
Although all runners take care to stretch their muscles before and after taking a run, Pilates provides a progressive stretching that will protect the runner against injury.
Breathing is another strong plus point for taking up Pilates. Lung capacity will increase and there is also the positive side effect of any exercise that involves concentration and focus – a relaxed state of mind.
My physiotherapist tells me that there is no such thing as the perfect back. After 3 years of intensive training in her field and ten years of practice, I guess she should know more than anybody. Most of us have an imperfect posture and that’s another area that Pilates can help with.
In fact, she has several clients who have various ailments but through using Pilates as their primal stretching exercise, they have been able to keep their injuries at a minimum so that they can enjoy their running more and do more of it.
Pilates is very much focused on the core of the body, the centre. Stretching and exercising these muscles can enable your spine to be supported where it should be. The abs and lower back are strengthened by slow exercises. These are muscles that running does do not get strengthened by running. The muscles are better able to handle uneven ground and to absorb any shock.
Runners who regularly do Pilates have reported that they no longer get calf pulls and that they can maintain an upright posture, even on longer runs. This is essential for good breathing.
My last piece of advice on this – is not to push if you experience any pain. Either you’re injured or the exercise is not being done correctly.
So an exercise that improves posture, strengthens the lower back and can cure sciatica issues is certainly something to take notice of for runners. If you don’t have the time or the finance to attend classes, then you can pop a DVD into the machine and follow along with the instructor, at home and in your own time. I’m sure that your running will improve and you’ll cut back on lost time through injury.