Improving your running is not just about pounding the pavement. Give your feet a break and work your core with this selection of 5 key Pilates exercises that are sure to have you running tall and strong at your next race!
This is a great exercise that strengthens all of the abdominals. When done correctly, you should feel this working your abs, not the back or hips. Modifications can be made with arms by the side, squeeze a cushion between your knees.
- Get yourself ready by lying on your back with your feet on the floor hip distance apart.
- Ensure knees are bent and your spine is in a neutral position.
- Put your hands behind the head to support the neck, and widen your elbows. Shoulder blades should be down and back.
- Exhale and slide your ribs to your hips, curling your head and shoulders off the ground one vertebrae at a time, eyes stay focused on the knees.
- Inhale and lower back down, keeping the movement controlled throughout.
The Oblique Curl is another fantastic abdominal exercise with more focus this time on the obliques (or side abs). This is beneficial for runners as this keeps you stable while running, particularly if you like to run off road.
- Set up is the same for Abdominal Curl.
- Start by exhaling and curling the ribs to the opposite hip, rotating the body as you curl up in a smooth controlled movement.
- Inhale and slowly lower back down to the starting position.
- Try to avoid hunching your shoulders or sticking your neck out.
The posterior chain of the buttocks and hamstrings get a great workout with this exercise. These are muscles that we often neglect as runners, but are actually some of the most important to keep us mobile.
- Lie on your back, knees bent and feet hip distance apart with your arms resting by your side.
- Inhale and squeeze your buttocks, then exhale and slowly lift your buttocks off the ground, rolling the spine off the ground one vertebrae at a time.
- Once you have raised your hips up, inhale again and squeeze your buttocks.
- Exhale while lowering your back down to the starting position.
- Press your heels into the ground to make your posterior work harder.
Excellent for working our biggest muscle and one of the most important for running, the Clam is sure to make you feel the stretch in your buttocks.
- Lie on your right side with knees bent and right arm extended straight underneath the head. Your feet should be positioned in line with the body, knees in front of the body.
- Hips are stacked on top of one another, ensuring there is a small gap between your waist and the floor.
- Movement starts by exhaling, squeeze your left buttock and raise your left knee to the ceiling whilst keeping your feet together.
- Return back to the starting position by inhaling and reversing the movement.
The Plank is familiar to many runners but often done incorrectly. When activated the right way, the Plank is a great exercise to strengthen the arms, shoulders, chest and abs, all of which are crucial for maintaining a strong posture whilst running.
- Start with hands and knees (or modify to hands and feet to make more challenging), ensure hands are directly underneath the shoulders and legs hip distance apart.
- Your body should be in 1 long line, with no sagging through the spine, chin tucked under and eyes on the floor.
- Hold for around 10 breaths, focusing on drawing ribs towards the hips.
It’s All About Taking it Slow
Pilates emphasises on body alignment, proper breathing and muscle control, so it is important be deliberate and slow. Inhaling and exhaling at the proper times during the exercises will also help you build a more stable core.
The best thing is that you can do them in the comfort of your own home. Try these Pilates exercises and see how they improve your running!