When you think of cross-training, Pilates may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Often put in the same category as barre workouts, most don’t think of Pilates as a way to build power and strength, as much as lengthen and tone. It turns out, however, that is a huge misconception.
“Pilates is an excellent cross-training technique to help you up your game while training for any sport,” explains Jennifer McCamish, the owner of Dancers Shape, a Pilates and barre fitness studio in Austin. “I have a wide variety of professional athletes who benefit from Pilates—from professional golfers to NFL football players to Olympic gold medalist runners like Natasha Hastings.”
In order to understand how runners—and other athletes—can benefit from Pilates, McCamish (a former NYC Radio City Rockette) has rounded up four reasons why Pilates is the perfect cross-training.
Build Core Strength
“Pilates stabilizes and strengthens the core (the shoulder to pelvic girdle; not just the abs),” she explains. “A good Pilates instructor will help train the breath correlation to support movement, as well train the deep intrinsic stabilizing muscles to work in conjunction with the major muscle groups—creating efficient movement patterns and better biomechanics for sports performance. Runners can capture better speed by supporting the weight of their trunk with stronger posture.”
“When training for a specific sport it can create imbalances in the body due to repetitious movement,” notes McCamish. “Pilates focuses on creating equal length and strength in opposing muscle groups so that the athlete is counteracting aches and pain or minor injuries from repetitious training.”
“Pilates helps to reestablish proper strong posture and clear biomechanics,” she shares. “This is so that the body can begin to rehabilitate old injuries and it will help prevent future ones.”
Alleviate Knee Pain
“Pilates can help treat a common syndrome called “runner’s knee,” a sharp pain felt in the side of the knee during impact due to instability in the hip joint,” adds McCamish. “By strengthening the muscles that surround the hips with standard Pilates exercises like side leg lift, clam shell and bridge, you begin to establish better tracking for your running gait, alleviating the pain.”