Clinical Pilates Rehabilitation For Runners

Highlights:

  • How pilates assists with new and experienced runners
  • Home exercises for runners
  • In-clinic exercises for runners

Overview:

Running is a great excuse to get outdoors and influence positive changes in your body such as cardiovascular exercise, improving circulation, stress relief, improved confidence, and building strength / endurance in your large muscles. So how does Pilates play a part in running and why is it important?

Pilates is a unique way of connecting your mind and body while also encouraging positive pathways to reconnect, strengthen and facilitate efficient muscle activation. Running requires equal stability and mobility of the core muscles, spine and strength of the lower limbs. Pilates assists in improving range of movement around a joint and significantly increases the control and stability around joints. It emphasizes both muscle contractions of concentric (shortening) and eccentric (lengthening) phases through the use of different apparatuses like the reformer. Pilates also allows for the identification of muscle imbalances that may or may not have been acknowledged independent of your running. Once these imbalances have been identified, through the use of cues by your Kinesiologist or Physiotherapist, positive muscle activation patterns can build in line with an efficient running technique. This will then assist returning to running or building a foundation to starting to run for the first time.

I have had the opportunity in treating new and experienced runners; both who which benefit greatly from breaking down their technique with Pilates, exposing their strengths and weaknesses, then building together the strength, flexibility and endurance required to become a more efficient runner.

Exercises:

A few great exercises I like to get my clients started on to assist with their strength and technique of running are:

1. Seated Twist – For trunk mobility

Ensure your pelvis is in a neutral position and you maintain the natural ‘S curve’ of the spine before completing this exercise. Keep your shoulders away from your ears and exhale as you rotate.

Aim for 6-8 reps each side, 3 times per day.

2. Dead Ants – For core stability

Maintain a neutral spine and engage the “core” muscles to ensure your hips and knees are at 90 degrees (table top) with arms directly over your shoulders and soft, bent elbows. Exhale as you lower your right arm and left leg, inhale to return to starting position. 

Aim for 10-12 reps, 3 times per day.


The above exercises are great to begin a safe Pilates program to encourage the correct muscle groups to be active when you are running. Furthermore, the below exercises are more intermediate and advanced which I encouraged to be completed under the supervision of a Kinesiologist to further challenge and improve your running gait.

3. Dancing Horse

All reformer exercises should be completed under the supervision of a health professional.

Aim for 15 reps each leg, 2 times per day.


4. Single Leg Running on Bar

Aim for 8 reps, 2 times per day

The above exercises focus specifically on single leg strength, stability around the ankles, knees and hips as well as encourage a strong push off from the forefoot to enhance your stride length.

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