We asked Pilates instructor and runner Louise Humphrey to talk us through why Pilates could be the best form of cross training you could do as a runner. You may recognise Louise if you joined in with any of our Facebook Live pilates sessions during the last two periods of lockdown.
Louise, who has been teaching Pilates for 20 years, says: “It’s been great to see so many people starting running during lockdown back in March, and downloading the C25k app, getting their trainers on and hitting the pavements. But whether you are a seasoned runner or a lockdown runner, injuries are inevitable at some point, unless you add some cross training into your schedule. This is where new runners especially fall short, and those annoying injuries start to happen. That’s where Pilates can come in. To enable you to enjoy running without injury, it’s really important to put a little extra work in outside of your running sessions.”
Louise continues: “Pilates focuses on core strength, mobility and flexibility. Pilates also helps with your body awareness and maintaining a good posture. Our core is made up of deep muscles which when strong helps stabilise the spine, which helps us keep upright and steady, which are equally important to our running.
“Pilates also focuses on the gluteal and adductor (inner thigh) muscles. These muscles can become weak especially if you sit for long periods. If this sounds all too familiar, you might want to listen to this chat 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 you strengthen to help your running is that doesn’t need to take long and can easily be added before or after your run.”
If you are new to Pilates or would like to find out more about runner specific Pilates exercises then why not join Louise’s Pilates for Runners Course, LIVE on Zoom, starting on 11th January at 6pm for 6 weeks. All sessions are recorded. Find out more about the course here.
Try these 5 Pilates exercises before or after your runs. Repeat each exercise 6-10 times, and you will soon start to notice a difference.
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 4’s
- Take one leg back engaging core and glutes (make sure you don’t feel it in your back) and the other 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
The swan dive stretches and strengthens all the muscles in the back, neck and shoulders.
- Lie on your front
- Legs slightly wide, hips turned out and pubic bone towards the floor.
- As you breathe in, pull tummy button toward spine to protect your back.
- Lift up through chest, using your arms to support you
- 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, bringing 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.
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 as you raise your arms and head, peeling your spine off the floor.
- When you get to the point in the photo, start to breathe out until you bring yourself upright.
- In-breath and then place the spine back onto the floor
The Shoulder Bridge
The Shoulder Bridge is a great exercise to strengthen the core and 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 exercises, please make sure you are fit and healthy to do Pilates and if you are unsure then do consult your doctor.
You can find out more about The Pilates for Runners Course here