Pilates Students' Manual

Benefits of Pilates for Runners

October 22, 2020 Olivia Bioni Season 2 Episode 7
Pilates Students' Manual
Benefits of Pilates for Runners
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

No exercise system ticks all the boxes for movement health. However, running and Pilates go so well together, and working with both modalities together can create a more complete picture of movement health. Still not so sure? Tune in to learn more!   

I want to hear from you! Share your thoughts and follow the podcast on Instagram and Facebook @pilatesstudentsmanual. Full show notes, episode transcription, and chapter markers can be found on the podcast website here: https://bit.ly/PilatesStudentsManual. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast for updates, and rate and review wherever you listen!  Episodes now available on YouTube: *https://bit.ly/YouTubePSM

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Show Notes: 

The lecture at the PMA was by Victoria Torrie-Capan, and she owns Pillates on 66 in NYC. Learn more about her here: *https://pilateson66.ghost.io/victoria/*   

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[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Pilates Students' Manual, a podcast helping you get the most out of your Pilates classes. I'm Olivia and I'll be your host. Join the conversation and share your thoughts on Instagram at @pilatesstudentsmanual. You can support the podcast by visiting. buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts. Let's learn something new.

Hello, hello everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. Today I'm going to be talking about Pilates and running. Running is a very popular form of cardio exercise [00:01:00] and running is also one of the more accessible forms of exercise, because really all you need is a pair of shoes to go for a run. And there's not really a big barrier to entry in terms of you don't need to find a studio or a team or an organization or anything, you can pretty much just go outside and do it. 

Running is fabulous for cardiovascular health and fabulous for a bunch of parts of health, but running doesn't offer everything that you need for your body to move happily, the same way Pilates doesn't offer everything you need for your body to move happily. But these two forms of exercise together are like a really great match. And I want to tell you about it. 

The episode about the hips really got me thinking about repetitive movement and forms of exercise that have you moving in one particular way over and over again, with the same muscles responsible for that movement and really dominating the [00:02:00] entirety of the exercise session.

When we were talking about hips and how important it is to move the hips in all directions, I did mention that running is one of those exercises where you really don't move your hips in all the ways your hips can move. It's really that repetitive movement that can be like that for your arms as well, and for, you know, the swing of your legs as well. Your knees and your ankles are doing the same thing over and over again as well. 

When I attended the PMA conference in 2018, I attended a workshop on runners and Pilates for runners and actually in my cohort for teacher training, there was also someone who did their project on runners. So I'm drawing most of the information that I'm sharing with you from those presentations. I will link to a teacher from the PMA. And then also just sharing my experience of working with runners. And I do have a kind of history with running as well. I was a soccer player through high school. And then I had a knee injury, which prevented me from playing soccer into [00:03:00] college or beyond. Soccer is not just about running, but there is a lot of running. I was a midfielder, so there was a lot of running that I did. So I can share that a bit. 

Pilates can really fill in the gaps that one repetitive form of exercise like running can leave. Pilates works really well as a form of active recovery. There is a lot of stretching built into the strengthening that happens. There's such a big emphasis on core support and stability that we get by, you know, firing our muscles in the most efficient way possible. There's some attention to posture and alignment. And that can really benefit your running form. 

In short, Pilates has what runners need. And that's an emphasis on breath because breathing, as we know, is so important to all things running, Pilates and being alive. There's ways to incorporate thoracic mobility, which is going to help you in terms of that posture and also the rotation that happens in our torso when we run. [00:04:00] Working with that long spine, that neutral spine, getting those spinal extensors really strong. Alignment of the pelvis, alignment of the lower leg. And when we work on all of those things together, we can minimize injuries and help with recovery as well. And those are what you want to do for any form of exercise. You want to be injured, less and recover faster. 

There are some things about running that are different perhaps than someone who's drawn to Pilates, right? From the get-go. And these are not mutually exclusive. You can be a runner who loves Pilates, but you could also be a runner who doesn't like Pilates so much for these reasons. 

So when we're talking about runners and why people run, there's definitely, in addition to it being accessible and having like that really low barrier to entry, it's also an excellent source of cardio. It challenges our cardiovascular system and helps it get stronger. So that's a really important thing that running can do. Runners get that endorphin rush when you push yourself [00:05:00] really hard and you keep going, you do get that nice wave of endorphins that makes you feel good. That runner's high. 

There's a mindfulness that happens in running or can happen in running, whether you're jamming to your favorite tunes or you're running in silence, but there is definitely a mental component, a mind body connection, I would go so far as to say, when we run. 

It's great cross training. If you do a sport like soccer or any sport where you're doing a lot of running, just plain running is going to help you cross train. Your success and your progress is measurable. When you run, you can run for longer, you can run faster, you can run, you know, in ways that you can track. 

There's a social or community component to running as well. When you're competing in these races, you know, I have friends who are runners on Facebook and there's like really active running communities of people getting together and training for races. And then the races themselves have a big social component. So that is definitely something that you can get. 

[00:06:00] And unfortunately, another thing that can happen with running is injuries because you don't always have a coach. You don't always have a lot of instruction. You just go out and run. What we know from Pilates is a lot of the things that we take for granted when we move in ways and we don't really think about the way that we're moving. The habits that we have in our body are not always the most effective or efficient habits. And they definitely get us from point A to point B. 

But when you're going to do something like running, where you're going to repeatedly perform this action, if there's anything going on in your form or any sort of imbalances in your body, they can be exacerbated by a lot of running just because you're further reinforcing a less than optimal habit. So it's very easy to get injured as a runner or while you're running, whether it's from something like shin splints or plantar fasciitis, or, you know, [00:07:00] piriformis syndrome, IT band syndrome. There's lots of ways to get injured. I mean, in life, but definitely when you're running and if you're running a lot, especially if you go from not running to suddenly running a lot. There's a lot of things that could potentially go wrong. 

That's not to scare anyone away from running. I think running is fabulous and really excellent for all of the things that I mentioned, whether it's that community support or that cardiovascular endurance, or that mind, body connection, that form of meditation as well. But the reason I'm saying about injuries is I do think that Pilates, especially private sessions, but also group classes, can kind of fill in, in where there are gaps in a person's training program. 

So coming up after the break, I'm going to talk about how Pilates can meet the specific needs of runners. And once again, just talking about private sessions and how [00:08:00] amazing they are. That's coming up next.

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[00:09:00] I mentioned briefly before the break that someone who's drawn to Pilates may not be the same person who's drawn to running because running does have that high impact, lots of sweat, really pushing yourself sensation, and you can get that from Pilates. So what I want to say is that if you are a runner and you aren't drawn to Pilates, I want to kind of question, what are your ideas about what Pilates is?

Because if we take the classical mat or the classical reformer exercises, I've referred to them, actually, as a marathon because they can be really intense and there is a sustained amount of effort. If you keep going through those exercises, you're definitely going to work up a sweat. A sweat is of course not always a marker of a [00:10:00] successful or difficult exercise. I sweat a lot, so I could be just marching on the mat and also be getting a little toasty, but it does have, or it can have that component to it as well. 

Pilates, whether you're following the classical order or not, can be very athletic. And the reason I've been pushing these private sessions is private sessions for a way to get what you need. So if you are coming to Pilates and you're like, you know, I think it would be great cross training for me, but I don't know, isn't it slow and boring, which are definitely notions that I had about Pilates before I started it as well. And I was someone who did yoga and I still thought that Pilates might be slow and boring just from the ideas that I had about it in my head.

So Pilates can meet you in that very athletic, fast paced, lots of transitions, lots of exercises, one after another way. And it can also meet you in that very slow, very intentional, very focused [00:11:00] way can really meet you where you are and give you whatever you need. 

A fun thing with the Pilates equipment is that there are lots of pieces of equipment and lots of ways to do an exercise. So if you're someone who enjoys running because your mind is always going a mile a minute and you have to like, keep up with your mind, you know, Pilates can meet you there. We can go at a faster pace. We can change pieces of equipment. We can do an exercise a lot of different ways. 

That equipment can support you if we're working on something like building a new movement pattern, but it can also challenge you and really push you beyond what you can do with just your body weight and your running shoes. Pilates is excellent because we work in all planes of movement. So things like your hips, your shoulders are going to get to move in all the ways that hips and shoulders move, not just the way that we run. 

That allows you to have a more balanced muscle development so that you don't get bound up or tight, or [00:12:00] really stuck in one pattern. Because even though, you know, when we run, our body moves this way, when we live our life, we want our body to move lots of different ways. Pilates lets you explore all those different ways of moving. And in different body positions, you know, running, you're always upright and running, but in Pilates we work lying on our back, on our side, on our front, kneeling, seated, all kinds of ways. 

Pilates is great for your brain and for building those cross patterning habits and really challenging your coordination, which can be really important. Even though running itself is a repetitive action, you might run on different inclines or a different terrain. And Pilates helps you through, you know, navigating that change and finding that stability in instability. 

Pilates helps the foot, ankle, knee, hip. So all of those things that we're thinking about that are bearing load that are having a lot of impact as we're running, Pilates is working to strengthen those joints [00:13:00] to help you stay mobile in places that you're tight and stable in places that are unstable.

I know that when I played soccer before I started doing yoga, before I started doing Pilates, I had several ankle injuries and I had rolled my ankle. I rolled my ankles a lot. If I were coming to Pilates as a soccer player and said, you know, I have all this ankle stuff going on. Pilates can really work to strengthen that joint so that I have less instability there.

Pilates can also incorporate some stretching and some active stretching in ways that, I can only speak for my experience as a soccer player, but I definitely did not stretch as much as I needed to. And it's really easy to get injured when muscles aren't able to move the ways that they need to. Pilates is a great way to incorporate that stretching, using equipment in a more interesting or dynamic way. So that you're still stretching, which is what you know you need to do. But it's also a little bit more [00:14:00] interesting as well. 

Saving the best for last, there is a huge emphasis on breathing and Pilates and really breathing fully and deeply using all of the muscles that we need to breathe. And by doing exercises while you're breathing in this way, you're also strengthening that muscular system that supports our breath. And that is something you can transfer to your life, let alone the activities that you do in your life. 

Any of those issues that I mentioned, whether it's shin splints, or if you have tendonitis in your Achilles or plantar fasciitis, IT band or piriformis syndrome, maybe you have sciatica going on. Most of those- can I say all of those? Most, if not all, of those are by an excessive amount of tension. Part of that is because when we run, we're performing that repetitive action. So we're asking the muscle to do the same thing in the same way, all the time. 

All of [00:15:00] those issues that may come from running are very painful and I don't want to discount the pain, but they are definitely things that can be remedied when we either stretch what is tight, strengthen what is weak, and pay attention to those areas of the body that are letting us know that something's not quite in balance. 

Whether you are a runner and just a runner or you're running to cross train, Pilates is a great way to cross train your brain running and to really keep you injury-free pain-free and able to run longer, happier, better breathe better, move better. Pilates really might be the missing piece in your routine. I highly recommend that if you are a runner or if you know a runner, that you recommend Pilates to them, or that I recommend Pilates to you. 

Maybe you start in group classes. I know at the studios I work with, we offer [00:16:00] a free 30 minute private training assessment where you can come in, totally free to you, and just talk with a Pilates teacher. And you can ask them, you know, I'm a runner, what is Pilates going to do for me? Probably they're going to say things along these lines, but you'll get to try out the equipment and you'll get to try out some exercises and see how it feels in your body, how it fits in your body. But I really do think that it's a great way to, as I said, fill in the gaps, a really great way to balance out your workout adventures. 

I'd love to hear from you if you are a runner. I know that you probably do Pilates, that's why you're listening to a Pilates podcast. But if you're also a runner, I'd love to hear how Pilates helps you run more, better, longer, faster.

I'd also like to take a moment to thank all of my supporters on Buy Me a Coffee. I appreciate your donations, your contributions that are supporting this podcast, this project. I appreciate them so much. Thank you for taking the time to visit the Buy Me a Coffee page [00:17:00] and also support my work. I hope you have a great week and I'll talk to you again soon.

Thanks for tuning in to this week's episode of Pilates Students' Manual, a podcast helping you get the most out of your Pilates classes. Be sure to check out the podcast, Instagram at @pilatesstudentsmanual and subscribe wherever you're listening. Interested in teaching Pilates too? Check out Pilates Teachers' Manual, available everywhere you listen to podcasts.

I hope to see you next episode. Until next time. [00:18:00]

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What Runners Love About Running
Pilates Can Meet You Where You Are
Injury Recovery and Prevention