Updated: Mar 3
Despite its popularity, running is one of the leading causes of sports-related injuries. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that up to 79% of runners experience at least one injury per year.
Pilates often gets put into the same category as Yoga, but in fact they have a very different approach and focus. Pilates done well is very mindful but it's essentially a functional discipline focused around improving core stability and posture. And by doing it regularly you can reduce the risk of injury when you run.
It's a common assumption that your 'core' refers just to your abdominal muscles but in fact it's a much bigger area. Your core consists of all the muscles surrounding your trunk, including your abdominals, obliques, diaphragm, pelvic floor, glutes, trunk extensors and hip flexors. These muscles provide stability to your trunk for balance and movement, which is why they are so fundamental to our performance when we run.
The three fundamentals of Pilates are to:
Correct the alignment of the body
Work on your breathing
Improve core stability (or 'centring' as it's referred to in Pilates)
It can include equipment such as resistance bands, foam rollers and stability balls but in its simplest form, all you need is a mat.
So why should runners do Pilates?
Put simply, because you'll run better. It can help improve your overall strength, flexibility, and balance, which can in turn lead to better running form and performance. Pilates exercises target specific muscle groups, such as the core and hips, which are important for stability and injury prevention during running. Additionally, Pilates can help alleviate muscle imbalances and tensions that may arise from running.
A slight imbalance in your body when you run can create niggly aches and pains or longer term injuries, because it's such a repetitive movement. Even the smallest adjustment can have a huge impact.
Pilates is low impact and you can fit it in anytime without compromising your run. In fact, a short session can make a brilliant warm up to engage your muscles and prepare them for what's about to happen. Spine Curls, Pilates Squats, Oyster and Prone Knee Lifts are great to fire up your body before you head out.
Ideally, in addition to your warm up, you'd fit in a few 15 minute sessions a week, working on different areas of your core each time. These short sessions won't be sweaty, so you can just get it done wherever you are, in whatever you're wearing. It couldn't be easier. If you're a member, we've done the thinking for you and you can check out our online programme here.
If you do have more time, why not try Pilates over Zoom with GetMeFit's brilliant Cat Benger? She's a Triathlon Coach as well as a Pilates instructor and her live class at 6pm every Monday provides excellent teaching points and guidance if you've not done it before. You can book her class here. You can also catch a recorded version in the on demand video section here.