Pilates, with the right instructor (thats me!) can highlight your weaknesses and what areas of the body you need to work on to improve your stride length, cadence and efficiency. With this insight you will reduce your risk of injury and your running will improve dramatically.
Usually runners have weak glute medius, poor pelvic stability and weak posterior chain muscles (the muscles down the whole back of the body). Pilates exercises can target these areas specifically both by working them in isolation and in sequence.
Lets take glute med as an example, we can test to see a weakness in this muscle with the trendelberg test which involves standing on one leg to see if your hip lifts or drops on the side the foot is lifted on. If weaknesses are found I would prescribe clams, side kneeling kicks and side leg series to start with, moving on to progressions of these with resistance bands, pilates balls and pilates rings.
Glute med is responsible for stabilising the pelvis and controlling the femur during dynamic movement – the swing phase of your running stride. Weakness in glute med can be related to tibial stress fracture, lower back pain, ITB syndrome, ACL injuries and patella femoral pathologies. If you want to find out more check out the Journal of Sports Physical therapy 2009 – 2010.
So as you can see, glute med is really important in running but traditional strengthening exercises that runners do such as squats and lunges target glute max and neglect glute med. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t be doing squats or lunges of course you should but you also need to focus on the more specific exercises for glute med and this is why every runner should be doing Pilates.
Whilst I have only focused on glute med here there are many other muscles and areas that runners need to work on to stay injury free and become a better runner but I’ll save those for another time. If you would like to try a Pilates class with me send me an email or checkout our timetable.