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Strength, stability, form and pelvic control are fundamental for runners with regards to preventing injury, maintaining power, speed and strength. Pilates combines mobilising, strength and control, therefore making it the perfect pairing for a runner.

Importantly, Pilates helps to strengthen your core, stabilise your torso and work on small, refined technical movements which can help you to conserve your energy throughout your longer runs. Strengthened deep core muscles not only contribute to more efficient running technique, they will also work to proficiently prevent lower back pain and tightness while improving your posture.

By increasing muscle strength and tone and creating better postural alignment; natural and correct movement patterns can take place as you run, meaning more power is created and performance can increase.

The beauty of Pilates is that because it is low impact it is a great discipline to do alongside your running programme. Once you are comfortable with these moves, aim to repeat 1 – 2 times a week as part of your active recovery.

Roll Back

  • Lie on your back with your legs extended and your feet hip width apart
  • Maintain connection of pelvic floor and abdominals
  • Work from your centre creating a c-curve of the spine  (flex the spine forward)
  • Maintain a flexed and lengthened spine throughout as you roll back towards the mat putting weight onto the pelvis
  • Roll through your centre keeping waist long on both sides
  • Perform 10-15 repetitions, repeat 3 times

Spine Curl Drives

  • Maintain connection of the pelvic floor and abdominals
  • Sequentially roll pelvis up into a bridge
  • Lengthen one leg above the body
  • Drive upi & down from your centre, glutes and quads
  • Tuck bottom under at the top to avoid compression of the lumbar spine
  • Feel weight across the bottom of the shoulder blades
  • Perform 10 -15 reps, repeat 3 times

Pilates Press Ups

  • Avoid extension of the spine by feeling long through the back and connected through your abdominals
  • Slide elbows softly against ribs as you lower your body to the floor
  • Hinge at the hips and knees as you move
  • Exhale as you push back up
  • Keep your elbows facing your feet
  • Avoid sinking between your shoulder blades
  • Perform 10 – 15 reps, repeat 3 times

Table Top

  • Start on all fours
  • Ensure your hands are directly underneath your shoulder joint and your knees directly under your hip joint
  • Avoid sinking between your shoulder blades, aim to draw your shoulders softly down your back
  • Feel lengthened in opposition when lifting your opposite arm and leg
  • Keep your core connected and lifted
  • Avoid extension of the spine
  • Perform 10 – 15 reps, repeat 3 times

Toe Taps

  • Maintain a neutral spine and pelvis by connection of the pelvic floor and abdominals – slide the ribs down towards the hips to avoid extension of the spine
  • Keep legs bent at 90 degrees
  • Send the foot towards the floor keeping a 90 angle. Avoid lowering the foot to the glute
  • Perform 10 – 15 reps, repeat 3 times.

Swimming

  • Lying on your front place your forehead on the mat with a long neck
  • Tuck your bottom under to avoid compression of your lumbar spine and to maintain neutral posture
  • Lift navel away from the mat
  • Activate movement from core and hip joint by lengthening & fully connecting the leg and lifting from the glute
  • Avoid movement or rolling of the pelvis
  • Perform 10 – 15 reps, repeat 3 times

How Pilates Can Help To Improve Running Performance

While standard core exercises such as crunches and planks work to build strength in your core, Pilates exercise work to recruit the deeper core muscles more efficiently and effectively than simply just holding a plank.

Pilates focuses on lateral breathing which in turn strengthens and stabilises the muscles connecting the ribs, spine and pelvis. Research has proven that those who add regular Pilates workouts into their training routine to build a bulletproof & strong core, improved their 5k running times more than those who did no alternative conditioning.

By strengthening the pelvic floor and muscles supporting the spine, there is a reduced need to recruit incorrect muscles when running. The result: less wasted energy, more efficient form and technique and faster times! Ready to get started on these exercises? Have a read on everything you need to know: Pilates For Beginners

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