5 benefits of Pilates for runners

Because it’s good for everyone. Men. Women. Kids. Grown ups. Grown ups that think they are kids. Grandmas and Pas. Parents. Your crazy Aunt. Everyone. Really. 

And because your hamstrings need some LOVE.

The top 5 benefits, and believe me, there are more, for runners in particular are:

  1.  Improving Posture
  2. Breathing
  3. Strengthening
  4. Flexibility
  5.  Clarity of Mind

Want to learn more? Join me at Mint Pilates Pilates in San Francisco for Pilates for Runners workshop and read more below.

Running is wonderful. It’s freeing and exhilarating. That’s why kids look over the moon when they are sprinting! But it also can really suck and hurt.

When you are running, you are doing a high impact exercise where your pounding pavement, trails, sand…

Your muscles will be tired, over trained and shortened at various points in time.

Exercises, like what is included in the Pilates repertoire, that are a combination of strengthening, stretching and lengthening, work muscles to counter balance high impact exercises like running.

For runners, the importance of a strong core is pure bio-mechanics. If you have a strong core, you can improve your running techniques (gait, form, pace).

Pilates is your secret weapon to a better running technique, but most importantly to feeling better during and after your runs every single day.

I know many runners that can run a 5K, 10K, half or full marathon but have very weak core muscles. Is this you? This was totally me for a while.

What this means is that you have the cardiovascular, mental and general physical endurance to do the race. This is awesome!

But it also means that you have a higher likelihood of getting injured and enduring a longer recovery because you haven’t given your stabilizer muscles the love that they need. Better than this, it means that you have a lot of potential to improve your abilities whether recreationally or in a race setting if you work on strengthening their core.  

Pilates is one of the best cross training workouts you can do as a runner. I’m obviously bias but that’s because I’ve seen the results on myself and many other people as well.

Here is the deal. Pilates helps to:

Improve your posture

With Pilates, you will build a strong core. Pilates exercises will bring an awareness to how you stand, walk, run and sit in a way that promotes a healthy spine. Developing your core means strengthening the deep and superficial muscles that stabilize, align and move the trunk of your body from your hips to your shoulders. This includes your pelvis, your back, your front abdominal wall. It’s no secret that a strong core is important to being a stronger being… and to also getting some definition in your abs. There is a little bit of vanity in all of us, right?

Saw is a great example of a postural exercises that feels amazing (you get to twist your spine), fires into your abs and gives you the opportunity to find a hamstring stretch.

Facilitate better breathing 

Most of us don’t pay enough attention to our breath. We have shallow breathing patterns. Runners tend to breath more from the chest, especially as paces increase. Pilates trains you to breath from the diaphragm. It’s pretty cool because the diaphragm is connected to your abs so the more you can learn to breath from there, the deeper you can work into your core. Diaphramatic breathing is a huge help during running.

Strengthen big and small groups

Pilates can help strengthen quads, hip abductors and lots of tiny stabilizer muscles. By making these areas strong, you are more likely to prevent injury. If you can focus on strengthening from the center and outward, you will gain an awareness in your body that can propagate positively to your running and your day – to – day activities.

A great exercise for runners is any side series like side kick kneeling. Its purpose is to strengthn the core, hips and also challenge balance and coordination. When you think about the motion your legs to when they run, it is a continual flexion and extentsion of your hip (forward and back). This exercises encourages you to work the outsides of your hips and glutes that will help stabilize that forward and back motion.

These side exercises (with the exception of side planks that I heart big time) are one of my least favorite exercises. This clearly means, as I have been taught by my fellow trainers at Fuse Pilates, that I should do more of it. Do it 3 times a week!

Gain flexibility

You're not flexible, right? Right. So you think you can't do Pilates, right? Wrong. The beauty of Pilates is that it is a full body workout. In many exercises such as double leg stretch or leg pull you are lengthening and stretching muscles while also working deep into other muscle groups. Over time, Pilates can help you gain flexibility. And there is so much strength in being flexible. True in life – not just Pilates! 

Clarity of Mind

The first time you take Pilates, you probably won’t experience any clarity of mind. You may swear, or give your teacher bad looks or think some really, really mean thing. We forgive you. But with regularity and focus, you’ll see that the mind body connection in a session of Pilates is intense. As you get into the groove, your movements become really intentional and you won’t be able to think of too much else as you figure out your breath, the placement of your limbs and how to maintain your composure as you get deeper into exercises. The more you take pilates, the harder it becomes. Why ? Because as you go, your learn techniques to engage your muscles deeper each time. You move with less “effort” but feel it more deeply. In the pilates world, the mantra is “as much as necessary, as little as possible”.

There are more awesome side effects of Pilates like:

  •  Injury prevention
  •  Improved running technique
  • More fun in the bedroom – it is true!
  • General goal crushing and life winning

What’s not to like? You will, recover better. Loosen tight areas. Improve your balance. Generally just kick butt.

You will see the benefits of Pilates the more you do it. Like everything, it takes repetition to see changes.

I often recommend 2-3 sessions per week. With that, you’ll definitely have an “aha” moment during your day (in a meeting, in the car, on a walk) where you are consciously engaging your abs to sit up taller without an instructor telling you to do it.

And then you’ll go for a run and notice how much stronger you feel with every stride. And then, instead of swearing at your Pilates teacher, you’ll be sending them love notes! We love you too.

Want to learn more? Join me at Mint Pilates in San Francisco for Pilates for Runners workshop!