As summer cautiously creeps in, we’re as eager as you are to take our workouts outside. And what’s better than jogging along the bay with the Golden Gate Bridge on the horizon?
In between lacing up your running shoes, remember that there are other activities your body needs. Thankfully, Pilates has you covered.
1)When in Doubt, Stretch it Out.
Running strengthens a small group of muscles a large amount. Your quads, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, and shin muscles engage with every step you take. This is great — we definitely want these muscles to stay strong. But just strengthening without proper stretching can make these muscles unhappily tight. Pilates allows us to simultaneously engage and encourage length.Think about legs in loops: as you draw circles, your hamstrings are working, but they are also getting a mega-stretch. Bonus: Pilates teachers have a laundry list of delicious stretches to keep you balanced.
2) A More Efficient Upper Body = A More Efficient Lower Body.
Because these few muscles get all the attention when you run, it’s important to make sure everything else is getting some love. Even though you’re not exactly doing push-up’s as you jog, a strong upper body can actually help you become a more efficient runner. For example, the deepest layer of abdominal muscle, the transverse abdominis, is the most important postural muscle. Pilates helps strengthen this layer, allowing your back extensors to take a much-needed break.
3)Twist and Shout.
Running is largely done in the sagittal plane of movement. This means that your arms and legs are moving front to back, but you’re not doing much side to side bending or rotation. It’s important to move in all planes of motion so nothing gets stiff, making Pilates the perfect antidote. We’re all about mobilizing the spine, and we just love rotation.
4) Make a Low-impact Pact.
Running is a fast-twitch, high-intensity, and high-impact form of exercise. This is great for so many reasons, but it can also be hard on your body, especially if you’re doing it frequently. Pilates, on the other hand, offers you a chance to work out while lying down…how cool is that? Combining the two will ensure you get a full body workout without putting too much stress on your joints.
5) No Injuries Allowed!
If you’ve been pushing a bit too hard and are on the brink of an injury (or over the edge), don’t you worry. Pilates happens to be amazing at rehabilitating and preventing aches and pains. For example...
- Ankle injuries are all too common amongst runners. We start Pilates classes with footwork, which strengthens the ankles, stretches the calves, and allows us to make sure everything is aligned.
- Engaging the hamstrings, inner thighs, and glutes with low-impact exercises like side lying legs helps stabilize and support the knee joint. This helps alleviate and prevent knee injuries.
- Stretching out the shins is oh-so-important if you’re running up and down these crazy hills of ours.
Next time you jog from the park to the reformer, ask your OnPointe instructor to incorporate some of these exercises. And of course, please consult your doctor or physical therapist in case of serious or recurring injuries.
Author: Ali Weeks