These Pilates exercises and stretches for runners can help balance the muscular emphasis of running and avoid injury. Start in neutral alignment, ensuring that your ears, shoulders and hips are aligned. If standing, make sure that your hips, knees and feet are also aligned.  


SPINAL ROTATION  Chest opener and spinal mobilizer – Lie on your side with knees bent and palms together reaching away from shoulders.  Lift the top hand up to the ceiling and then with eyes on the fingers, continue opening the chest to the ceiling. Release the shoulder away from the ear, breathe into the sides and back of the rib cage and feel the chest opening.  You may need support for your head (a small pillow or pad) if you feel that your neck is uncomfortable. Move and breathe in and out of this position a few times allowing the stretch across the chest.


PSOAS STRETCH (knee to chest with leg reach) – Lie on your back with a folded towel under your sacrum. Pull one leg in to chest and let other leg release into the floor, allowing a stretch across the front of the hip. Breathe in this position allowing for the opening of the hip flexors. Take arm overhead (same arm as extended leg) to get a stretch higher into the psoas.


CAT STRETCH start on all fours and articulate your spine, tail to head into a flexed position (the “angry Halloween cat” shape) and breathe while stretching the spine.  Then, articulate the spine vertebrae by vertebrae from tail to head back to your neutral spine (ears, shoulders and hips aligned). Release tension in neck and shoulders in flexed position and breathe as you move.


HIP ROLLS Lie on your back with knees bent and feet under knees.  Initiating with your abdominal muscles, then using your glutes, imprint the pelvis and roll up through the spine lifting your hips off the mat. Do not let your ribs “pop” open. Roll down vertebrae by vertebrae articulating the spine back to the neutral or starting position.


IMPRINT WITH LEG LIFTS Lay on your back with knees bent and feet under your knees.  “Imprint” your pelvis by using your abdominal muscles to bring your hips closer to your ribs.  Do not use your glutes to do this and be sure to feel your abs working. Once you have the imprint, you can add a single leg lift as you engage the abdominal muscles.  After that becomes easy with no movement of the pelvis, then you can add lifting both legs off the mat or tapping one toe to the floor at a time.


SIDE LEG LIFTS – Lie on your side and line up ears, shoulders, hips, knees and feet.  Reaching the top leg long, lift the leg and then lower it, pointing the toe as you lift and flexing the foot as you lower.  Keep waist long and abdominals engaged. Repeat both sides. You can add leg circles or lift both legs at once to increase the challenge.

These Pilates exercises for runners are a great place to start to ensure muscular balance and avoid injury. Take your conditioning a step further by cross training with Athletic Conditioning classes at MOVE Wellness Studios Wellness. Our new Athletic Conditioning classes are held on Mon/Fri @ 6:30 AM and Tues/Thurs @ 3:30 PM at MOVE Wellness Studios Westside.

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