Running is a common recreational activity in NYC. Pilates is an excellent method of cross training to potentially improve your performance and/or reduce your risk of running related injury. The benefits include:
- Low Impact. Pilates is low impact, allowing your joints to recover on non-running days.
- Multiplanar. Running is a repetitive activity that occurs primarily as a forward/backward motion. In therapy terms, we say running occurs mostly in the sagittal plane. Your body, however, works in all 3 planes (sagittal, frontal and transverse). It is thought that this single plane repetitive motion may contribute to the high incidence of running injuries. Pilates is an exercise method that works in all 3 planes, keeping your body balanced.
- Core stability. The large hip and knee muscles used in running attach to the spine and pelvis. If the core muscles are strong, the spine and pelvis stay stable, allowing the large lower extremity muscles to pull more efficiently, improving your running performance.
- Flexibility. Pilates utilizes both dynamic and static stretching to improve the flexibility of the muscles prone to tightness in runners: hip flexors, piriformis, quadriceps, hamstrings, ITB, calf/Achilles.
- Posture and alignment. All Pilates exercises are performed with attention to whole body alignment and posture.
- Proper running form. Good running form requires a foundation of core and lower extremity strength and flexibility as well as good posture and alignment #2-5 above). Then it requires those muscles to do their job in a smooth coordinated manner. Sometimes a muscle gets tight because it is trying to do a function it was not intended to do. Pilates breaks down movement into component parts to teach the body proper movement mechanics.
Pilates for Runners 2 will discuss some research done to support the benefits of Pilates in runners.