Pilates To Help You Run Smarter

Article

BY Bree Corbett, Elixr Pilates Instructor
Wednesday Jun 28, 2017
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Being a good runner takes more than just powerful legs and lungs. It takes a strong core, too. It was this core (courtesy of many years of Pilates training) that held my form when I started to fatigue while running my ultra-marathon. And it was this core that enabled me to keep holding the correct running form until the end of the race, so that I finished injury free. 

But it doesn't end there. By targeting deep stabiliser muscles, Pilates is also able to strengthen and align the hips, which results in a more efficient running gait. What's more, professional runners have reported faster running times as a result of adding Pilates to their training schedule.

By following this 20-minute mat Pilates set just a few times a week, you'll become stronger, run more efficiently and reduce injuries.

Elixr Health Clubs - Bree Corbett

Before you start: Remember that the primary focus is strengthening deep core muscles rather than toning the superficial ones. Precision and alignment are essential, so keep your repetitions slow and controlled – fast, sloppy movements will cause more harm than good. The key to this set is quality over quantity.

ABDOMINALS AND CORE

Focus: Developing abdominal strength and endurance, mobilising the hip joint, and strengthening the local muscles surrounding the pelvis to help with pelvic stability. Good form starts with the pelvis and core.

A) Supine single leg extension

To start:

  • Lie on your back with your legs together in a tabletop position. 
  • Your pelvis and spine should be in neutral and your arms at your sides.
  • Make sure that your shoulder girdle is stabilised and that your core is engaged.

Description:

  1. Inhale to prepare.
  2. Exhale, keep your pelvis and spine still and extend your right leg to the diagonal.
  3. Inhale and return it to a tabletop position.
  4. Exhale, keep your pelvis and spine still and extend your left leg to the diagonal.
  5. Inhale and return it to a tabletop position.
  6. Repeat 4–6 times with each leg.

Progress:
To single leg stretch with an abdominal curl. Remember to keep your pelvis neutral.
Hold your abdominal curl and extend both legs to a double leg stretch; hold and breath for five seconds. Remember to keep the pelvis neutral. Return your legs to a tabletop position and lower back to the mat.

B) Plank with tiger curls
This set will also help develop upper body strength.

To start:

  • Begin in a plank position on your toes with your pelvis and spine in neutral. 
  • Your legs are extended and should be hip distance apart. 
  • Make sure that your shoulder girdle is stabilised and that your core is engaged.

Description:

  1. Hold in your plank position for five seconds, focusing on your breathing.
  2. Inhale, lift and hover your right foot off the mat, bend your knee and draw it towards your right elbow. Keep your spine and pelvis in neutral. 
  3. Exhale, extend your leg behind you and lower it back to the mat.
  4. Inhale, lift and hover your left foot off the mat, bend your knee and draw it towards your left elbow. Keep your spine and pelvis in neutral. 
  5. Exhale, extend your leg behind you and lower it back to the mat. 
  6. Repeat 3 times with each leg.
  7. Lower your knees to the mat to finish.
  8. Repeat the set 2–3 times.

LEGS AND BUTT (HAMSTRINGS AND GLUTEALS)

Focus: Challenging pelvic stability while strengthening the gluteal muscles and hamstrings. If you spend your days sitting behind a desk, these exercises are just the thing for waking up those lazy bottoms.

Hip lifts
Shoulder bridge preparation

To start:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees and the soles of your feet on the floor. Your feet should be hip width apart. 
  • Your pelvis and spine should be in neutral and your arms at your sides.
  • Make sure that your shoulder girdle is stabilised and that your core is engaged.


Description:

Hip lifts

  1. Inhale to prepare.
  2. Exhale and flatten your lower back into the mat and start to roll up the spine, one vertebrae at a time, until you reach a shoulder bridge position with your shoulder, knee and hip joints in a straight line.
  3. Inhale and, keeping your spine and pelvis neutral, flex at the hips and lower your bottom until it is floating 1 cm off the mat. 
  4. Exhale, squeeze your bottom and lift your hips back to your shoulder bridge position. 
  5. Repeat the hip lift 10 times before rolling slowly back down to the mat.
  6. Repeat the set 2–3 times.

Description:

Shoulder bridge preparation

  1. Inhale to prepare.
  2. Exhale, flatten your lower back into the mat, and start to roll up the spine, one vertebrae at a time, until you reach your shoulder bridge position with your shoulder, knee and hip joints in a straight line.
  3. Inhale to stay.
  4. Exhale, squeeze your left bottom and lift your right foot off the floor. 
  5. Inhale to lower.
  6. Exhale, squeeze your right bottom and lift your left foot off the floor. 
  7. Repeat another three times with each leg.
  8. To finish, place both your feet on the floor and roll your spine back down to the mat. 
  9. Repeat the set three times.

HIPS

Focus: Strengthening the muscles around the hip joint, while keeping the pelvis stabilised and the core strong.

To start:

  • Lie in a sideways position with your pelvis neutral, hips square and upper body elevated and supported by your elbow – the latter must be underneath your shoulder joint, with your palm flat to the floor.
  • Your top leg is extended and parallel to the floor with your toes pointed.
  • Your bottom leg is parallel, but flexed at the hip and knee.
  • Your opposite arm is flexed at the elbow in the 'salute' position.
  • Make sure that you shoulder girdle is stabilised and that your core is engaged.

Description:

  1. Inhale and, with control, slowly kick your leg forward as far as possible without moving your upper body.
  2. Keep your leg extended, dorsiflex your ankle and pulse your leg twice at the end range. Inhale as you pulse. 
  3. Exhale and return your leg to the start position with your toes pointed.
  4. Repeat on the opposite side.
  5. Try two sets of 6–8 reps with each leg.

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