How Pilates Can Benefit Runners

by Therese Clementi, PT, COMT

NovaCare LogoRunning can have many positive physical and mental benefits. It’s an excellent cardiovascular exercise and can help to shed weight. Leg muscles will become stronger and it’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors and helps to clear the mind. However, your body can develop asymmetries with running due to poor body mechanics and muscular weaknesses that cause other muscles to be overused. This can result in a variety of injuries and are most often soft tissue, overuse-type conditions.
For both injured and non-injured runners, Pilates is a functional workout regimen that incorporates components of physical therapy, strengthening, and flexibility that can directly impact running form. One of the main differences that sets Pilates apart from other types of rehabilitation is that it supports and strengthens the whole body instead of just the injured part. Pilates encourages proper movement patterns which can help in the rehabilitative process as well as help to prevent future injuries.

Let’s use the automobile as an analogy: most runners don’t get injured because of a poor engine, but rather because of a poor chassis or suspension system that can’t keep up with the strong engine of the cardiovascular system. Pilates builds a strong and flexible spine and core (chassis/suspension) which can promote faster recovery from strains and injuries as well as improve mechanics and efficiency of running.

Posture is one of the most important components of a runner’s gait and posture is very dependent on a strong core. Pilates develops a strong core by strengthening the muscles of the torso, hips, shoulders, and pelvis. It helps to identify areas of weakness and then teaches runners to learn muscular cues to help fire the proper muscles surrounding the diaphragm, spine, ribs and hips in such a way as to maintain better posture through the running gait cycle. This all leads to more efficient movement and less chance of injury. Pilates exercises are also an excellent way to assist with breath control which will also improve efficiency for running.

If you would like to incorporate Pilates into your rehabilitation process, or would like more information please contact one of NovaCare’s clinics that provide Pilates services.

NovaCare at Lincoln Park Athletic Club (773) 248-2578
NovaCare at Lincoln Square Athletic Club (773) 989-6472

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