Pilates can make a huge contribution to running. A lot of runners do what they do best- they run and run and run! But running needs more than this. Running needs a stable foundation to support you and to propel the legs step after step.
Pilates gives you the strong core for this foundation and can enhance pelvic stability, so that your hips don’t rock about unbalanced. Steady hips and a strong core will allow you to stride further with more power and efficiency. This is also important when you start to tire- the legs will fatigue and your hips will sway in a more disjointed way, slowing you down and placing more strain on your body. Pilates will also aid injury prevention by keeping all your muscles strong and supportive to your joints.
Try these 3 exercises to enhance your running:
1) Scissors: Lying on your back with your knees bent. Engage your core, and use your core to raise up the right knee to 90 degrees. As you lower it bring the left knee up so that they move reciprocally. Continue to tap the toes to the floor and keep the legs at 90 degrees. Make sure you reach out from the hip so that the toes reach away from the body to challenge the core.
Good for running- This exercise truly mimics the reciprocal leg pattern in running so that the core works the way it should!
2) Side kick: Lying on your side with your hips bent to 90 degrees and the knees to 45 degrees. Engage your core as you raise the top leg to hip level. Bring the leg forwards reaching away from the body, and then slowly return to the start. Ensure the knees do not touch by maintaining the space between the legs.
Good for running- This again mimics the leg movements, but by doing so on your side it engages the gluteal muscles further.
3) Single leg squat: Stand on one leg and slowly bend the knee to 90 degrees. Keep your hips facing forwards and the knees in line with the hips. I hold a ball in the picture to help stabilise the trunk to the centre.
Good for running- This exercise is great for strengthening the legs in isolation. Running involves landing on impact on one leg so this ensures the leg can withstand this, and strengthens the pelvis to control this movement.
Try 2 x 10 repetitions of each exercise, and for no. 2 and 3 remember to do them on both sides. Do both sides feel equal to you?