The Benefits of Pilates
• Strengthen your back and abdominal muscles
• Lengthen and align your spine
• Improve your posture
• Expand your diaphragm
• Increase your overall flexibility, strength and balance
• Increase the range of movement in your hips and shoulders
• Enhance your concentration through focused breathing
• Help you run with a more upright stance
• Help you recover faster after long runs and from injuries
A stronger and more stable core will help you to :
• Run more efficiently uphill with a stabilized musculature
• Run more efficiently downhill with a stronger and more balanced sciatic area
• Experience less tightening or tension of the neck, head and shoulders
• Increase oxygenation and stamina with a diaphragm that is able to fully expand
• Focus on proper movement with better awareness
• Decrease fatigue because of less strain on the body
• Run with ease and efficiency
And of course Pilates is relaxing and very enjoyable too!
Running is a repetitive activity so by its very nature this means that any weaknesses or imbalances in your body could potentially surface because certain muscles are overused whilst others are underused. This of course can result in a variety of ailments from lower back pain to hip and knee problems.
For example, say you have a problem with your Iliotibial band (ITB). Something many runners suffer from. You are doing all the stretches that your physio prescribed, you’ve promised not to run (the hardest part!) but still it hurts and you are champing at the bit to get back out there. Pilates can help by changing the way you use your body.
If you suffer from an ITB problem say (and this could apply to anything else, like knee problems, hips problems etc.) your body is probably telling you that you are overusing some of your muscles or maybe using them inefficiently.
Over time Pilates exercises can help by activating the lazy muscles that haven’t been doing their bit, lengthening the tight muscles (think hamstrings!) and creating better, more aligned movement patterns so that the ITB doesn’t have to take so much stress. It becomes a very dynamic process that integrates the rest of the body with the ITB. Foot position, hip and knee position, pelvis, upper back and neck may all play a role whilst performing the exercises – Pilates addresses these components recognizing that a change in one area of the body can create a change in other areas too…
Think too about how when we run our bodies endure constant impact – the force of each step travels up from the legs to the lower back and rib cage. The core strength that is acquired through Pilates exercises not only helps make those vulnerable areas better able to deal with the impact, it also improves body alignment and balance and will help you distribute the force of running throughout the body more efficiently, instead of just dumping it all on to a few muscles.
“The Pilates Method of Body Conditioning develops the body uniformly, corrects posture, restores vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit”. Joseph H. Pilates