Discover the effects of Pilates on runners, how it can improve running technique and performance ? Why integrate it into your running training ?
What is the Pilates method ?
Pilates is a dynamic activity that emphasises the importance of controlling movement from a stable core. It consists of 8 fundamental principles :
The application of these principles allows us to work the whole body at the same time (centering body and mind): “Move efficiently, without pain”. The different exercises proposed by the pilates method allow to wake up our sleeping cells, but also to tone up the body.
Why integrate pilates into our training ?
After a marathon or a 5km run, we may suffer from pain in the buttocks or lower back. Often, these pains are linked to the lack of activation of the postural and trunk muscles. “It is important to know that with fatigue the body mobilises the postural muscles less to direct the energy to the propulsion muscles as much as possible. And very naturally, the pace deteriorates and pain appears”.
As a result, our pace deteriorates, our performance declines and victory is lost. In addition, other studies have highlighted weakness in the abductors and external rotators of the hip in runners. While some have linked lower limb injuries to a lack of frontal access training. Indeed, the majority of sportsmen and women who practice this sport train mainly in the sagittal plane (in profile). This is why pilates or CORE work could be a good alternative for body awareness and postural muscle work in the different body planes.
A study of 54 runners
To illustrate this, we chose the 2018 study by Finatto et al. For 6 weeks, 54 runners participated in the study, but only 28 runners completed the programme. All runners ran 15 kilometres or more per week. But only 13 runners were able to participate in the clinical pilates programme at a frequency of twice a week for a total duration of 6 weeks.
How many times a week should I practice pilates ?
The study was able to show that 2 pilates sessions per week improved running performance within a few weeks. In addition to reducing energy cost and improving VO2 max.
This result is very difficult to find in runners who only follow a strength programme in parallel with their running training. Indeed, strength training helps the athlete to improve and reduce his economy. But it is not certain that the metabolic cost (METs) of the postural and trunk muscles is reduced with strength training as opposed to pilates.
Pilates breathing useful in running
In addition to these running benefits, breathing pilates helps runners to adopt proper breathing patterns. But that’s not all, pilates also improves lung capacity and strengthens the respiratory muscles. Among these muscles is the transverse muscle, which is essential for maintaining our viscera and abdominal belt during running. This prevents gynaecological complications in women, such as prolapse and urinary incontinence. Unfortunately, the lack of studies on the pilates method will not be able to demonstrate its usefulness for female runners suffering from these problems.
A good approach despite a lack of evidence
We have seen the effects of pilates on runners. Pilates can be a good strategy to improve and reduce post running pain.
Although there is a lack of research on this method for runners, I invite you to try a few sessions to make your own opinion.
Feel free to share your experiences and feedback on this method!
- Encyclopédie du pilates, Blandine Montagard, 2018
“Pilates training improves 5-km run performance by changing metabolic cost and muscle activity in trained runners”
- Courir léger, S. Séhel, 2015
- La clinique du coureur, Blaise Dubois et Fréderic Berg, 2019
- Formation Fisioform ” Expert en Pilates Thérapeutique”