We don’t often give our core sufficient credit. However the group of muscles which make up your core are always working overtime to stabilise your spine, which in turn ensures that you are kept steady as well as upright. Plus, almost all movements start from the core, from sitting up straight, to bending over to even running.
However if your idea of a core workout is just doing crunches at the end of a run, you’ll wreak absolute havoc on your lower back as well as, eventually, your running performance. That’s why you should consider including Pilates into your training routine.
Every Pilates move focuses not just on the six-pack ab muscles (in other words, the rectus abdominis in addition to the obliques), however Pilates is also known for targeting the deep core muscles which support your spine and also tap into other often neglected muscles in runners such as the glutes and inner thighs.
As a result, you will build greater core strength and control and this leads to improved posture and a more efficient running form. In fact, researchers found that when runners experienced weaknesses in the deep core muscles which support the spine, it led to more risk of lower back pain over time.
A Few Quick Form Notes Before You Begin
Two major things that you should concentrate on during these exercises are your posture as well as breathing. In order to get into good alignment, you’ll want to find what Pilates instructors call your ‘neutral spine’. Here’s how to find this:
- Rock your pelvis forwards and backwards, feeling it extend to its extreme point on either end, ultimately coming to a rest in the middle. Your back mustn’t be overarched.
- Ensure that you engage your core and pelvic floor muscles while you stand up tall, keeping your chest up.
- Think about stretching out your spine, together with your neck, so if feels like “helium balloons are affixed to the top of your head as well as lifting you upwards.
Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth, and ensure that you keep those abdominal muscles activated throughout the exercise. Concentrate on breathing in through your nose as deeply as you possibly can so that your rib cage expands. Breathe out through your mouth. Practise this a few times before you start.
And last but not least, if you’re injured it’s best to get advice from a Pilates instructor, trainer, or physical therapist in terms of how to modify these exercises so that you don’t make things worse.
- Lie faceup on a Pilates mat with your legs extended straight out. Ensure that your feet are hip-width apart.
- Extend your arms overhead and breathe in deeply to prepare.
- Exhale, tuck your chin to chest, and then draw arms forward.
- When your wrists are directly above your shoulders, slowly peel upper back off the mat one vertebrae at a time by utilising your core for control.
- Continue to reach forwards as you fold up as well as over the legs as far as you can without straining.
- Inhale here and then exhale as you tuck your chin to chest. Round your upper back to roll backward slowly until your shoulders are on the mat. Do five to 10 repetitions.
- Stand up tall. Have your feet together, your back straight, your shoulders back, and your arms relaxed at your sides.
- Gradually drop your left ear to your left shoulder to a point where you feel a stretch. Hold for a number of seconds.
- Return to your starting position and then repeat four times to the right.
- Repeat the same motion on your left side four times.
Single Straight-Leg Stretch
- Lie face-up on the Pilates mat with your legs extended straight out in front of you. Rest your arms at your sides.
- Lengthen your right leg towards the ceiling with your toes pointed and take hold of it at the highest point possible.
- Lift your left leg a couple of centimetres off the ground. Peel your head and shoulders off the Pilates mat while engaging your abdominals.
- After this, gently pulse the right leg toward you twice.
- Exhale with each pulse and attempt to keep your right leg as straight as you possibly can. Inhale and then switch legs.
- Repeat the two pulses, making sure that you exhale with each pulse. Continue to alternate.
- Do reps on each side for a total of 10 reps.
Are you keen on becoming a Pilates Instructor? If you do then you need to do our Pilates Instructor Course. Follow this link to find out more.