I’m just going to start this out with my answer: a resounding YES! Based on my own personal experience, I believe Pilates is definitely beneficial for runners. Runners of all shapes, sizes, and abilities.
But you shouldn’t take my word for it.
Instead, I’ve asked certified Pilates Instructor Michele Terry a few questions to get the lowdown on what Pilates is and how it can help us as runners. Michele, who has been teaching Mat Pilates since February of 2015, is a wealth of knowledge on the topic. She’s been a runner since she was 18 (she’s now 42 – you do the math! 😉), so she has a deeper understanding of the strength and mobility challenges that we, as runners, often face.
I’m excited for you to hear what she has to say. 😀
Q: What is Pilates? Are there any important principles we should be aware of?
A: Pilates is a dynamic set of exercises designed to strengthen the core, lengthen the body, and increase flexibility and balance.
Pilates consists of nine principles. Each principle is connected to and woven into the others. They also emphasize the mind/body connection which ensures the exercises are done with thoughtful movement which maximizes the benefits to the body.
- Balanced muscle development
- Whole-body movement
- Restoration and relaxation
Q: How is Pilates different from Yoga?
A: This is a great question that I often get asked. Yoga is a static (or hold in place) stretch while Pilates uses the dynamic, consistent movement of the body to increase the overall fitness level of individuals.
Q: How often should I do Pilates? When will I see results?
A: One of Joseph Pilates’ famous quotes is, “In 10 sessions you’ll feel the difference, in 20 sessions you’ll see the difference, and in 30 sessions you’ll have a whole new body.” You WILL notice the difference when you are diligent with practicing Pilates. I recommend at least 2 hours a week. That can be two, one-hour classes, or broken up into three to four smaller segments. I have been blessed to see clients have almost immediate relief from back pain, build up strength quickly (knee push-ups to military-style push-ups in three months!), and increase their flexibility and stability so they can once again engage in everyday activities that they struggled with before.
Q: What are the disadvantages of Pilates?
A: There are instances when certain Pilates exercises can be contraindicant. Pregnant women, postpartum moms, those with diastasis recti, and those with osteoporosis must make modifications to or avoid specific movements. But, with a well-trained, certified Pilates instructor, we are more than able to design sessions that are specific to the needs of these groups. If there is ever any question or concern, it is always best to speak with a medical professional before taking a class of any kind.
Q: Is Pilates good for runners?
A: 100% for sure! Runners work in one plane of motion – sagittal. Runners also experience tight muscles due to the nature of running itself. We (because I am a runner myself) are guilty of taking 30 seconds to “stretch” before running and even more guilty of not cooling down sufficiently. Pilates increases that flexibility within the limbs, keeps the core strong which protects our backs and increases our speed, ensures that we are integrating whole-body movement in multiple planes of motion, and keeps us upright on our feet as our balance and stability increase.
Q: Can I run and do Pilates on the same day?
A: Yes! Dynamic stretching, which is what Pilates is, is ideal for warming up. The consistent movement of the exercises gets the blood flowing to the muscles, loosening them up and getting them prepped to move quickly. This would be a great way to break up the two hours of Pilates a week that I recommend. Do 30 minutes before a run, and you will indeed notice a difference in the pace of your first mile. Your warm-up mile has automatically become a training mile.
Q: What is Reformer Pilates and how is it different from Mat Pilates?
A: The Reformer is a large piece of equipment with a sliding board, called the carriage, with springs that add resistance, give full range of motion, and ensure that the Pilates exercises are done correctly. Mat Pilates is done on a mat. It is basically taking the exercises done on the Reformer and moving them down onto the floor. Mat Pilates is popular because it is still providing an amazing workout while also being easily accessible to the general public.
Q: What Pilates exercises would you recommend for beginners?
A: A wonderful benefit to Pilates is that the exercises have at least one, and sometimes multiple, modifications. Beginners can look for a class that is designed specifically for students that have little to no Pilates experience. However, they can also take a standard class that has an instructor that consistently gives verbal cues for modifications of the movements. The saw, single leg stretches, modified One Hundreds, modified push-ups, side-lying leg lifts, and the swan are excellent exercises to start off with. These provide a foundation for a Pilates student that wants to build up to the more challenging moves.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Pilates is a very extensive method of movement that was born out of necessity in the early 1900s and continues to be proven very effective by science research. With the deep well of information surrounding all things Pilates, I continue to further my certification and education through Balanced Body. I love working with women and encouraging them to move no matter their age, level, or restrictions. And I especially have a heart for the overall health of dancers, runners, and swinging athletes. I am happy to chat with anyone about the benefits of Pilates and create a plan that caters to the needs of that individual.
Q: Where can readers learn more about you or sign up for classes?
A: I am currently doing group mat classes via OnZoom. I do private sessions in person in my studio where I incorporate various props and equipment into each lesson. My website is www.pilatesintheloft.com and you can contact me there to schedule private sessions and the links to my OnZoom classes are on the website as well.
Pilates in the Loft
Certified Pilates Instructor
I hope Michele’s words were as helpful to you as they were to me. Since I started taking her classes five years ago, I’ve seen the benefits she talked about play out in my own life and in my running. I would highly encourage you to give one of her Pilates sessions a try. I’m confident you’ll be hooked!
And if you try a class, please let me know what you think!