Eight Pilates Exercises That Every Runner Should Try

Importance of cross-training

Every runner should cross-train to make sure all muscle groups of their body get enough working out. Running is a repetitive activity. This leads to the overuse of some muscle groups while underusing others. This can not only lead to muscle imbalances but also makes them prone to injuries.

That is where cross-training enters the picture. When you indulge in some other fitness modalities alongside running, you are working out the muscles that are not engaged in running. Thus, the weaker muscles receive some much-needed attention and boost your overall posture while running.

Pilates is a great way to work out those overlooked muscle groups as bringing your focus to each muscle group is the hallmark of Pilates. It works out your core wonderfully and being a runner, you must not discount on the importance of a strong core.

Pilates help you stretch all your muscles before you go for a run.

How does it help?

Strengthening your core muscles will translate to a more stable spine and posture which further will lead to more powerful running.

Featured in this post are some Pilates exercises that a runner ought to try if they have cross-training on their mind. Performing these exercises before you don your shoes and head out for a run is advisable.

A key point to remember would be to not force any exercise or over-stretch in order to attain a position. Pilates is supposed to be comfortable and easy and any unusual discomfort points towards using the wrong technique.

Taking the help of a professional can prove beneficial too as there are some micro-movements that you absolutely have to perform correctly in order to gain desired results and avoid injury as a runner.

Without further ado, let us jump right into it.

#1. The saw

The Saw is one of the best exercises for runners. This is a mat exercise that involves a back and hamstring stretch. The saw will work to strengthen your spine and stretch your deep abdominals as well. This leads to an improved posture and stable body by means of controlled movements.

To execute the saw, sit up straight on the mat on your sit bones. Your legs should be extended in front of you with your feet approximately shoulder-width apart.

Now, stretch your arms to the side with your palms facing forward. As you inhale, twist your torso to the right while you use your abs. While you do this, keep your hips stable and your pelvis steady.

Exhale as you curl your entire torso into yourself, kind of like how clothes are wrung. Twist as much as you can without causing undue distress and then come back to the starting position with another exhale.

Repeat this three times on each side.

#2. Single-leg stretch (Every Runner Must Do)

This will train your abdominals to stabilise your trunk as you run while your arms and legs are in motion. You will have better coordination by practising this exercise.

Lie supine on your Pilates mat with your knees bent and hands by your hips. Your shins should be parallel to the floor. This is called a tabletop position. Breathe normally in this position till you are relaxed while maintaining the neutral pelvis.

As you inhale, peel your head and chest off the mat and bring your right knee in towards you while your left leg lengthens forward. Your right hand will grasp your right ankle and left hand on your right knee as you bring your right knee in.

Remember that your shoulders should only be lifted off the mat until the tips of your shoulder blades.

Keep switching legs on a two-part inhale. You can repeat this 10 times with each leg.

#3. The roll-up

One properly performed roll-up can equate to six regular sit-ups. That is how powerful this exercise is when it comes to working out your abdominals. It is also a great way of mobilising your spine and flattening your stomach.

Start by lying supine on your mat with your legs straight. Bring your arms up over your head as you inhale. Now, curl up with your chin dropping and your head and upper supine joining the motion.

During the exhale, continue curling up in one smooth motion while pulling your abs and deepening the curve of your spine. Do not use momentum to pull your body off the mat otherwise, you would be employing the wrong technique.

Now, keep your head tucked and your back rounded as you reach for your toes. Your legs can be straight or bent according to your fitness level.

Unfurl yourself with an inhale and lower yourself down onto the mat in the starting position.

Remember both the going up and coming back down motions should happen vertebra by vertebra, like peeling yourself off the floor.

Perform 6 such repetitions for an optimum workout.

#4. The swan

This exercise is a great stretch for your abdominals, hip flexors and quadriceps. This will also enhance your hip joint flexibility thus helping you run better.

To execute this exercise, you should start by lying prone on the mat with your stomach against the floor. Bring your hands under your shoulders with palms against the mat. Your legs can either be straight together or shoulder-width apart depending on your comfort level.

Now as you engage your abdominals, lift your belly button off the mat. Lengthen your spine as you inhale and press your forearms and hands firmly against the mat. Imagine sending energy through the top of your head. The hips should stay connected with the mat and your head should be in line with your spine.

Now as you exhale, release the arc and return to the mat in the starting position gradually following the sequence of low-belly, then mid-belly and then low-ribs and so on.

Perform 3-5 repetitions of the swan.

#5. Single straight leg stretch

This exercise will challenge your abdominals to test their endurance and also stretch the backs of your legs. Remember, this exercise is different from the single-leg stretch we mentioned earlier.

For this exercise, have your legs extended towards the ceiling as you lie flat on the mat. Now pull in your abdominals and lengthen your spine as you lift your upper body off the mat. The tips of your shoulder blades should remain in touch with the mat. This is the position you will maintain throughout this exercise.

Grasp your right ankle with both hands and stretch out the left leg out at a 45-degree angle. Inhale as you gently pull the right leg towards you. Pulse this leg twice if you wish to increase the stretch.

Now switch legs and do the same thing with your left leg. Repeat this exercise 6-10 times with each leg.

At no point during this exercise should you feel a strain in your neck. If you do, lie back down on the mat and pick up the exercise from the top.

#6. Pilates push-up

Pilates pushup is not onlly for strength but is also beneficial if you are a runner.

This is probably an advanced exercise that will require you to have enough core and arm strength to execute it.

For performing the Pilates push-up, start by standing in the Pilates posture on the mat. Inhale as you bring your arms straight up over your head. At the time of the exhale, begin rolling down towards the mat. Pull your abs in and curve your spine as you roll down till finally, your hands reach the mat.

Inhale again and walk with your hands on the mat until you have finally attained the front support/plank position. Keep your hips stable at this point.

Now go down in a plank till your hands are directly under your shoulders and then hold it. Your legs and arms should be straight. As you exhale, lift your abs and extend your elbows till you are back in a front support position.

Now walk your hands back to the deep curve position and the with another exhale, return to the upright position one vertebra at a time.

Perform 3-5 such repetitions.

#7. Reverse plank leg pull

This exercise will stretch the front and strengthen the back of your body. It will also work your arm and hamstring muscles.

Sit tall and firm on the mat with your legs extended in front. Place the heels of your hands against the mat with your fingertips pointing forward. This may give you a slightly leaning position as the hands are places a little behind your sit bones.

Exhale as you lift your pelvis off the mat to create a long line from your ankle to your ear. Engage your hamstrings as you do this.

Your trunk and abs are stabilised by your abdominals in this position. Keep your chest open and press your hands against the mat so as to put push against it. Take a breath in and then exhale as you lift your right leg toward the ceiling. Make sure the rest of your body does not lose posture as you do this. Also, your pelvis should not lose its alignment as you lift off one leg.

Inhale and place the leg back on the floor and then repeat the same with your left leg. Remember, while you are bringing your leg back to the floor, you are not just dropping it. You are lengthening it as it goes down.

Perform 1 such set and then return your pelvis to the floor thus bringing your body back in the sitting position.

Do 3 overall sets with each leg. As a runner, these pilates moves will greatly improve your posture.

#8. Shoulder bridge with kicks

To perform this exercise, lie supine on the mat with your knees bent and your feet shoulder-width apart. Tighten your core at this point to stabilise yourself.

As you inhale, push your feet into the floor by pressing them firmly against the mat. Squeeze your glutes and bring yourself off the floor by lifting your hips. Your knees, hips and shoulder should be in one line.

Now lift your right foot off the floor and extend your right leg such that it forms a 45-degree angle with the floor. Take it up in a kicking motion all the way till you can sustain it. On an exhale, lower your foot down on the floor. Go through the same motions with your opposite leg.

Lower your hips back gradually down on the floor, maintaining control as you do it. Do not just drop down onto the mat.

Perform 2 sets with 10 repetitions in each set.

These are some of the exercises that you as a runner should include in your daily routine before you head out. These will not only allow for a more efficient run but also make your workouts more interesting.

The repetitive action of running will not seem boring anymore if you cross-train. Many professional runners swear by cross-training as it is an effective way to ensure a comprehensive total body workout without missing out on any particular muscle group.

Now that you are aware of how a runner can benefit from Pilates, what is stopping you from taking it up?

Online Pilates Course by Radhika Karle

If your answer points toward the unavailability of an experienced Pilates instructor in your area, do not worry because we have you covered. Radhika Karle, celebrity nutritionist and Pilates coach is now available with her online Pilates classes.

With these pilates techniques, you can improve as a runner as you’ll be working on your runner posture, core muscles, legs, and over all stamina which is very important for runners. So what’s the wait for, start your Pilates workout now!

The dream to learn from a highly esteemed coach has come true as she has delivered transformative results in many of her students. So if you want to learn Pilates online, subscribe to Radhika Karle’s unluclass now!

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