Lots of runners strength-train with weights as part of their routine, but many runners are also beginning to incorporate Pilates into their weekly programme. You can see professional runners like Melissa Bishop and Colleen Quigley talk about the strength training method on social media, but why Pilates? What makes it such a good option for runners?
Pilates emphasizes proper posture, core strength and muscle balance, all things that can help a runner’s efficiency. Lu-Anne Nechitaluk, owner and instructor at Pilates Essentials in Windsor, Ont., says that Pilates is great for runners for so many reasons. “Pilates strengthens and stretches at the same time, which is exactly what runners need.”
She explains that the principles of Pilates really cater to a runner’s needs. “There’s five principles: breath, alignment, rib cage position, neutral pelvis (huge for posture) and keeping your shoulders down and back. We think about those with each exercise we do. It’s all about control and doing the exercise slowly–it’s quality over quantity.”
Breath is a huge part of Pilates, and the small changes that can be made through practice can have a huge positive impact on a runner during a race. “Learning to breathe properly helps runners gain control of their breathing, breathe deeper and maintain control of their spine,” says Nechitaluk. “Pilates is also very helpful with posture and range of motion, which is important for an efficient stride. With better range of motion and control, a runner won’t fatigue as quickly.”
Nechitaluk explains that when she gets a new client, it’s important to have them in for a couple of one-on-one sessions. “We like to give the client a postural assessment and see what needs to be stretched and what needs to be strengthened. The best way to learn how to do Pilates is through a studio session.”
Nechitaluk also says that Pilates isn’t a substitute for a strength program, but it can be a great addition for elite athletes. “If you want to be functionally fit, Pilates is great strength training. But if you’re a high-level athlete it can easily be used in conjunction with a pre-existing program.”