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How Pilates can help runners stay injury free

Since March 2020 running has become a hugely popular hobby. For many of us it’s been a lockdown lifesaver. Louise Humphrey's from Studio 44 Pilates gives us some important tips on how Pilates can help runners stay injury free and improve technique. 

It’s fantastic to see so many people enjoying the great outdoors.  But if you haven’t done anything for a while the risks of injury are high.

That’s where Pilates for runners comes in.  If you want to make sure that you can run and enjoy it without injury, then it’s really important to do a little extra work outside of your running sessions. 

Pilates focuses on core strength, mobility and flexibility, which are essential for good running technique.  Pilates also helps with your body awareness and maintaining a good posture.

Our core is made up of deep muscles that when strong helps stabilise the spine, which helps us to keep upright and steady - pretty important for running. 

Pilates also focuses on the glutes and inner thigh muscles. These muscles can become weak especially if you sit for long periods.  If this is you, you might want to listen to this conversation I had with my Physio about what happens to our bodies when we sit for long periods.  You can listen here

The advantages of doing Pilates to help strengthen your running is that it doesn’t need to take long and can easily be added before or after your run.  Below are five Pilates exercises that you could do before or after your run. By just doing 6 - 10 of each exercise you will start to notice a difference in your body.

If you are new to Pilates then why not head over to my Beginners Pilates Playlist videos on YouTube, you can find them here.

5 Pilates Exercises to help you reduce your risk of injuries when running

Leg pull prone

The leg pull prone is a great way to stretch and strengthen. Stretching the achilles and calf as well as using your core muscles to help stabilising your spine and pelvis.

  • Start on all fours
  • Take one leg back, engage core and glutes (make sure you don’t feel it in your back) then go into a press up position. 
  • Lift one leg slightly off the floor and rock slightly forward and back on the ball of the foot and feel the stretch
  • Repeat on other leg

Swan Dive

The Swan Dive stretches and strengthens all the muscles in the back, neck and shoulders.

  • Lie on your front
  • Legs slight wide, hips turned out and pubic bone towards the floor.
  • As you breathe in pull tummy button toward spine, this will protect your back.
  • Lift up through the chest, using your arms support
  • Ensure that your shoulders are relaxed
  • Inhale at the top and lower with control to the floor.

One Leg stretch

The One Leg Stretch is a strength exercise and is great to mimic the action of running, stretching out the hip flexor area.

  • Lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest.
  • Lower ribcage to the floor and curl your spine up, bring your head with you.  If this is uncomfortable then leave your head on the floor.
  • Take one leg away and lengthen whilst holding the other towards your chest.
  • Change legs and repeat.

Roll up

The Roll up stretches and strengthens the spine. 

  • Lie on the floor with your arms overhead and legs out straight
  • Ensure your core and glutes are engaged
  • Inhale raise arms and head peeling spine off the floor.
  • When you get to this point in the photo start to breathe out until you bring yourself upright.
  • Breathe back in and then place the spine back onto the floor

The Shoulder Bridge

The Shoulder Bridge is a great exercise to strengthen the core and also to mobilise the spine.

  • Lie on the floor with your knees bent.
  • Lower your lower back into the floor and start to peel your spine off the floor.
  • Engage your glutes and push your feet slightly into the floor.
  • Inhale at the top and as you exhale place the spine back onto the floor.

As with all exercise, please make sure you are fit and healthy to do Pilates and if you are unsure then do consult your doctor.

If you wish to find out more about Pilates whether as a beginner or someone who has done Pilates in the past then please do check out our 10-minute Pilates online membership. We have two membership levels, a beginner’s course and Live weekly Pilates classes on zoom.  PLUS, a Pilates for runners’ section.

You can find out more about Studio 44 Pilates 10-minute membership here.

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