These 5 Pilates exercises for runners can help you gain flexibility, reduce the chance of injury as well as improve your running form.
A good Pilates workout stretches and strengthens all the muscles in our bodies. It is a great form of exercise you can do at home, without any special equipment needed.
Now let’s find out why Pilates is a great workout to complement running!
Why Is Pilates Great For Runners?
Pilates improves your deep abdominal core muscles as well as other commonly neglected muscles in runners such as the glutes and inner thigh muscles.
Building these muscles helps to increase your core control, improve your posture, and contribute towards a more efficient running form.
Your core muscles act as a stabilizer for your torso, helping you to keep steady and upright. Your body is able to transfer the forces from running or other activities more efficiently if all these muscles are working well together.
When we have areas of weakness in our bodies this can cause us to compensate with other muscles putting you more at risk of injury.
It is not only strengthening that is important for runners, stretching and maintaining flexibility is also vital to keeping your movement fluid and again reducing the risk of injury.
Breathing control is another aspect of Pilates that can help aid your running. Pilates encourages you to breathe with the movement you are performing, filling your lungs, and engaging your diaphragm more consciously.
What is more, there are no barriers to starting Pilates. You do not need a gym or any special equipment to practice Pilates.
There’s plenty of free online Pilates resources that enable you to enjoy classes from home without having to spend on any new equipment (although a mat or soft floor space would be advisable).
Doing Pilates from home is also 2020-proof – you don’t need to worry about how close you are to others whilst doing Pilates exercises at home!
The Best Pilates Exercises For Runners
Here are five of the best Pilates exercises that help you improve your running form:
Bridging is an exercise which helps to increase muscle strength of the hip extensors (gluteal muscles) and to improve core stability. This is important to help maintain stability around your hips, pelvis, and your torso when running.
Starting position – lying on your back with your knees bent, your feet approximately hip-width apart and your arms down by your side.
Take a breath in and on your out-breath engage your bottom (glute) muscles. Tilt your pelvis backward (posteriorly) and gradually peel your spine off the matt and into a bridge position.
Once in the bridge position, on your out-breath, extend one leg making sure your bottom is still raised and not dropping. Then raise the leg in the extended position further so your toes are pointing towards the ceiling. Then lower the leg back to the floor.
Repeat each side 8-10 times.
2. Plank Position With Leg Lifts
This is one of the best Pilates exercises for runners that will challenge your core and glute muscle strength. This will give you a more efficient running form.
Starting in a four-point kneeling (all fours) position. Your knees should be directly under your hips, moving your hands slightly in front of your shoulders.
Hover knees approximately one inch off the mat then extend forwards to form a plank position. Inhale to hold this position.
Exhale while lifting one leg off the mat in alignment with the body, then inhale while lowering your leg.
Repeat alternating legs for 10 times on each leg.
3. Scissors Movement
This exercise challenges the control around our pelvis and hips with alternate movements of the legs, similar to the movement control required in running.
Float both legs one at a time into a tabletop position (your lower legs are forming the flat, level top of a table while your thighs are forming the straight, perpendicular legs of a table).
Maintaining the knee at 90 degrees, complete two reciprocal scissors movements of your legs.
Your legs will interchange halfway through the movement. Then as you inhale, complete two reciprocal scissors movements of your legs.
Repeat, exhaling for two alternating leg movements and inhaling for two alternating leg movements
Try to repeat this Pilates move for 2-3 minutes.
This exercise aims to strengthen the abductors around the hips, specifically your glute medius muscle.
It is important for runners to strengthen this muscle as it is key in preventing your knee collapsing inwards when running and so reducing the risk of injury.
Starting position – lying on your side, arm outstretches in alignment with your body.
Bend your hips approximately 45 degrees and knees bent to approximately 90 degrees. Keep your hips and shoulders stacked on top of each other.
Drawer your hip downwards away from your top shoulder. Then lift your top knee upwards.
Repeat 10-12 times on each side.
5. Single-Leg Dip
Running involves lots of single-leg activity which is why this exercise is great for runners. It really challenges the control and strength of your quadriceps and glute muscles as well as your core control to keep your pelvis level.
Starting position – standing with your weight on one leg, keeping your hips/pelvis level.
Bend the knee of the leg you are standing on over your toes. Ensure you keep your knee and hip aligned. Slowly extend the knee back into a standing position.
Repeat 12-15 times.
Hopefully, you enjoy these Pilates exercises for runners and start doing them regularly to improve your posture, boost your running form, and gain flexibility.