The days are getting longer and the temperatures are starting to improve. Spring is in the air and we are starting to get back outdoors. If you are a runner and hate those cold winter days you may be thinking you want to get off that treadmill and start running outside again. 

The transition from treadmill to pavement feels very different on the body and may cause some additional stresses on the body. Just think about it, a treadmill “gives” a little with every step yet the concrete is not so forgiving, creating more impact and stress on all the muscles and joints. 

This is where Pilates comes in!  It’s a perfect compliment to running. It’s low impact and doesn’t put further stress on the joints, in fact, it improves the mobility of all joints making you more resilient for the road. Additionally, it helps to improve overall mobility, which, for runners,  hip mobility is particularly important for optimal biomechanics in running gait. By moving through your full range of motion and applying stretch to shortened muscles, Pilates can help improve muscle length, which will lead to a more fluid running pattern, greater ease with stride & less likely to have injuries. 

Pilates will also improve strength in the core stabilizing muscles, which include not only the abdominals, but also the muscles of the hips, back, shoulders and neck. Strengthening these muscles will help to reduce stress on the low back and joints when running. With correct engagement of the core muscles, the upper body can relax enabling a more upright running posture. Again, all of this combined leads to running with greater ease! 

As a runner, you have probably experienced an injury at some point.  Pilates is great for injury prevention, or rehab if you are currently dealing with an injury. We all have imbalances in the body and when we run, those imbalances are amplified with every step, which can lead to those injuries.  Pilates helps to identify and correct imbalances in the body.  At Bodylines,  we pay particular attention to your alignment & correcting your movement patterns to therefore have your body recruit the right muscles at the right time.  Pilates promotes recovery after those longer runs as the exercises focus on muscle lengthening to improve flexibility, reducing muscle soreness and fatigue. Again, all of this combined leads to running with greater ease! 

The improvement in kinesthetic awareness that Pilates provides will also help to improve running efficiency. Having better body awareness = shaving seconds to improve your personal bests. Breathing control w/movement – (a focus in a Pilates practice) – promotes diaphragmatic breathing, which, better oxygenation = increased endurance and slows the onset of fatigue. Again, all of this combined leads to running with greater ease! 

These are just a few of the amazing benefits that Pilates can provide to runners. So, if you are a runner, or thinking of that first couch to 5K this Spring, consider adding Pilates, or any of our other classes as part of your cross training … you will quickly see the benefits Pilates provides not only when you lace up those sneakers, but also throughout your everyday life.

Article written by Louise Helmer, Bodylines Instructor and Physical Therapist Assistant.