With spring and summer comes the uptick in outdoor running in the Seattle area. It’s a good time to remind runners how much pilates can benefit them and improve their running practice. Here are some ways regular pilates sessions can round out your fitness routine:
· Increased core strength. Having a strong core helps you maintain proper form, and helps you move efficiently. Many exercises commonly used to strengthen core muscles only work the surface core muscles. Pilates trains you to engage and strengthen the deep core muscles. Strengthening these deep muscles provides greater stability of your core for longer periods of time. This means being able to run longer with better form, alignment, and balance, all of which lower your risk of injury.
· Improved balance. Pilates emphasizes balance to continuously challenge your core and form. Balance decreases with age, and most people find that a regular pilates practice improves their balance. As any runner knows, balance is crucial when running down hills or stepping on a rock.
· Postural corrections. Correcting postural imbalances will help give you better running form. Pilates teaches you proper posture and helps identify any weaknesses that deter you from proper form. Students learn which muscles to fire and strengthen to hold balanced posture.
· Side to side and rotational movements. Running occurs with forward motion, enhancing and tightening the muscles that propel you forward. For the strongest form, with less injury or chronic pain from repeated running, moving well from side to side and rotationally is necessary. Pilates works the body and spine through all planes of movement in a balanced way.
· Breath control. Breathing is the first principle of pilates, and each exercise has specific breath patterns designed to teach students how to maximize the breath. You will focus on breathing deeply and fully into the lower lobes of the lungs. Pilates teaches you how to engage the diaphragm and how to use the breath to bring awareness to the core and movement.
Recent studies have showed that runners have a greater life expectancy (average of 3 years longer), and that running as little as five minutes a day prolongs life spans. Whether you are starting to add running into your routine, or training for competitive races, pilates is an excellent way to improve and balance out your fitness routine.
Stephanie Crowe is a STOTT Pilates Certified Instructor in Seattle. Stephanie is passionate about health and wellness, and brings a diverse wealth of knowledge and experience to Emerald City Pilates. Stephanie also holds a Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Texas State University, and a Master's in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She enjoys gardening, cooking, and exploring the wonders of the Pacific Northwest outdoors.