There are many activities that Pilates can help you become stronger and more efficient at doing. We looked at biking a few weeks ago with our WAP Guy Scott and this week we are seeing how running can be made safer and better with our WAP Gal My-Hanh Nguyen.
My-Hanh ran as a child, but only for physical education in school, her passion for running didn't come until later as an adult. "It came after I had already been practicing Pilates for a while"
She had started practicing Pilates 10 years ago when she was living in Southern California, she started training to run half marathons about three years ago.
Since she had been doing Pilates so long before she started running she noticed a significant difference when she started thinking about her Pilates knowledge and really incorporating it into her running. "I am very aware of my body and am able to correct my posture while running, which helps me run more effectively.
Pilates has helped with some issues that have occurred for My-Hanh training for her half marathons "I started suffering from some knee and joint pain after running my third half marathon. The doctor diagnosed me with patella tendonitis, which was most likely cause by stability in my hip joint and also my flat feet." My-Hanh has shifted a lot of her focus in her Pilates work to address these issues. She has modified her workouts to concentrate on pelvis stability and strengthening the muscles she uses in running, such as hamstrings, quadriceps, soleus gastocnemius, just to name a few. She also continues to work on strengthening her core muscles to help maintain a proper posture while running.
My-Hanh has found that any exercise that challenges her balance and core strength is the most helpful as it helps mimic various running postures. Russian Splits and lots of Wunda Chair work all always good ones to go to. When she is training for her marathons she of course focuses more on the core strength and stability of the pelvis and she typically starts training about 3-4 months in advance. During the off season or when she doesn't have a large scale run planned she still tries to maintain a running routine which she says "has proven to be quite difficult since moving to Houston"
When the marathon ends her Pilates work changes a little bit as she needs to recover and get some stretching and flexibility back. "I really enjoy doing Leg Straps on the Reformer because I feel like it stretches my legs and helps increase the flexibility of my muscles. That overall lengthening helps so that the muscles are not as tense"
Pilates has so many benefits to runners. It helps as My-Hanh said to stretch muscles that if not properly stretched can cause problems for the runner leading to injuries or just insufficient running.
Pilates helps runners focus on their breathing. They can breathe deeper and smoother really getting air into the lungs.
Running is an impact activity and all that force goes from the feet up into the lower back. This is where Pilates and that core strength comes into play for the runner. It improves the body alignment and posture as well as the balance. This helps the runner not have that impact as they distribute the energy throughout the body more efficiently.