Why is Pilates Beneficial for Marathon Runners?

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All runners focus on strengthening their legs and their aerobic threshold but, too often, runners make the mistake of neglecting everything else. Running uses so much more than just your legs and your heart. Your core, which Pilates helps build in a uniform manner, is a huge part of running.

Your abdominal muscles include more than just the superficial “6 pack” muscles (rectus abdominis). As you can see from the diagram below, the abdominal muscles consists of the transverse abdominis, rectus abdomens and oblique (internal/external). This is distinctive from your core muscles. The core, on the other hand is your transverse abdominis, the pelvic floor, diaphragm and multifindi (diagram 2). All of these muscles work together when you think of “using your core.” In Pilates, we often refer to working and building the strength in our powerhouse, which is comprised of the “central” muscles – the abdomen and core muscles (described above), lower backs, hips and buttocks.

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Here are a few examples of how a strong core can help improve your running times and keep you injury free.

A strong core will help hold stabilize the pelvis. If your pelvis is out of alignment or unstable, you can become prone to injury. It can cause other imbalances further down the leg and may result in any leg issues (knee/hip) or low back pain. As you build your core, your abs will help you stabilize every time you make impact with the ground. This will reduce the need to overcompensate for imbalances and instability with other muscles.

Pilates will also help to increase flexibility, improve running posture and increase your power (as we focus on using the glutes and hamstrings in conjunction with the core).

While Pilates tones and strengthens, it simultaneously stretches. In every exercise you should feel a stretch and lengthening, which over time will help to increase flexibility in muscles. Pilates is well known for improving posture or helping to alleviate back pain. Every Pilates class or private helps to open up the front of the shoulders and to build the muscles towards the back of the body to hold the shoulders back. Lastly, we as mentioned above, the Pilates powerhouse incorporates the glutes and hamstrings. In every class, we work to build the strength in the glutes. Often students enter our studio not knowing how to “find their glutes.” We help students learn to activate them during Pilates classes, which translates to increased power outside the studio.

“I believe that a lack of core-strength and flexibility can create long term motor skills problems as the body continually adapts to find the path of least resistance and turns away from proper running mechanics.” -Terrence Mahon (Mammoth Lake Track Club)

Did we convince you? Take the guess work out of “am I doing it right?” and try incorporating one of our group Pilates mat class a week into your running routine. We offer a special “Pilates for Runners” class led by Christie, a marathoner and Pilates instructor at Endurance. This mat class focuses on building the core and is geared specifically for runners. Plus, it’s winter – the perfect time to gain strength for the next running season!

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Faces of Women Led Businesses: Julie Erickson

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Julie and Endurance Pilates and Yoga were recently featured in Boston Magazine’s Inaugural “Faces of Women Led Businesses” section in their October 2017 edition! Although our section was only a few questions, we wanted to give you a deeper peek into the life of Julie Erickson – busy mom, master Pilates instructor, working professional and business owner, marathon runner and more!

Q. What is something you’re passionate about outside of your work?

A: Running

Q. Describe yourself in one word.

A: Driven

Q. What is your morning routine like?

A: On Mondays and Fridays, I am up at 1:30 AM to leave my house by 2 AM. I shower, make coffee and drive the 4 hours to New York City. On Tuesdays through Thursdays, I am up at 5 AM to get my son to school. We leave the house every day by 6:15 AM. I get to sleep in on Saturday (5:30 AM or 6:30 AM) depending on what time I start at the studio. On Sundays I am usually up by 6:30 AM either going for a run or taking my son to a baseball game.  I just read that there is a gene that allows people to function on less hours of sleep than others – I truly think I have this!

Q. What is the best advice you have ever been given?

A: Don’t ever make yourself small or stay content for the comfort of somebody else.

Q. What item in your closet do you wear the most?

A: One of my hundreds of pairs of Lululemon black pants

Q. What is your greatest indulgence

A: Eyelash extensions – best money I’ve ever spent.

Q. What is on your perennial to-do list?

A: Blog posts

Q. What is your spirit animal?

A: Cat

Q. What are you currently reading?

Before I opened a studio, I used to run 70 miles a week and read at least one book a week – I only get to read on vacation or on the treadmill right now!  Working Mother magazine last night on treadmill!

A Bridal Ready Journey With Christie Wang, PMA-CPT/ Part III: Build a Better Butt At Home

 

I’m Christie Wang, Principal Pilates instructor (PMA-CPT) at Endurance Pilates and Yoga. I teach classical NY style Pilates at Endurance Pilates and Yoga. My wedding is less than 35 days away (yes we’ve converted to days!). This is my third post where I’ve been sharing my journey to feeling and looking my best; including healthy wedding prep nutrition, exercise and self-care routines. With the popularity of fitted slip and mermaid style dresses, I wanted to feature the best at home Pilates exercises to build a better butt!

If you’re at home and are looking for a quick Pilates-inspired workout to target the glutes and hamstrings- you’re in the right place! Repeat these three exercises three times each, and you have an easy 15 minute toning workout on your hands!

1. Ball Behind the Knee

Stand at the barre. Legs together and parallel. Bend the knee of the leg closest to the
mirror and keep looking at alignment. Lift the heel toward the buttocks by bending the
knee and NOT by lifting the thigh. Knees should stay together. Reach back and place
the ball behind the thigh without letting the hip flexor and quad reach the knee forward.
Draw the belly in by using the lower portion of the rectus abdominus. Be sure to look at
the position of the pelvis, the position should be neutral (for a woman ASIS is slightly
lower that the PSIS…for a man, these two points are even). The pubic bone and
tailbone should be in line with each other. DO NOT allow the knee to come forward, the start position is the thighs together and level- the working thigh DOES NOT come forward of the standing leg. The focus is on keeping the the lumbar spine still and not using the back muscles, thus the hamstring will be held in constant engagement. Students must achieve this leg muscle connection during most of the leg actions in a typical barre or Pilates class. Be sure to keep the following muscular connections- lower belly in and up- one hand at the belly, be sure to pull in and not allow the belly to pooch. Stable lower back- one hand at the lower back to ensure the muscles there are stabilizing and not gripping to move the thigh. Knee to knee. Thighs touching.

For most women, just standing in this start position is hip extension. Hold the ball and
attempt to press back in small little pulses 10x and then pull the heel closer to the butt 10x. Repeat 3x through.

2. Shoulder Bridges (2 and 1 legged)

Pressing into back of arms firmly (you should feel upper back and triceps pushing down hard into the mat), keeping the head totally still (no sliding), place you feet on top of a squishy playground ball. Stabilize the feet by squeezing inner thighs and glutes (thighs should be touching and butt should be active) and pulling in lower belly and ribs. Begin to tilt pelvis up the ceiling, lifting first the hips, then the low back then the mid back up into a shoulder bridge position.

Firstly roll the spine up and down a few times. Then, hold the shoulder bridge and pull the heels closer towards your butt in tiny pulses 10x and roll the hips down. Repeat 3x.

For an added challenge, roll hips up, pull heels in 10x then extend each leg up to the ceiling (making sure to keep those inner thighs together and abs active). Pull each leg in 10x each. After you’ve done one on each side, place both feet onto the ball, squeezing the inner thighs and pull the heels in 10x. Repeat all of this 3x.

3. Prep for Single Leg Kick 

Lay on your back with palm over palm underneath your forehead. Your two front hip bones (ASIS) and pelvis are pushing down into the mat while your abs are lifting up and away from the mat. Legs start long and parallel. Squeeze a magic circle (or even a playground ball) between the back of thigh and ankle. Keeping inner thighs squeezing and glutes engaged in both legs, pull the heel in towards the butt 10x. Relax slightly and repeat 3x. Switch sides. Repeat all 3x through

OPTIONAL: If in studio, frogs/leg circles with leg springs

If you have the luxury to be in the studio, work on that back of leg connection by using the Gratz Cadillac leg springs to practice frogs, leg circles and more. Under the supervision of an experienced instruction, you’ll feel your upper back, abs, butt, and inner thighs!

Want more information about Endurance’s Bridal Package? They combine Mat classes & Reformer training on the highest quality Gratz equipment. Sign up today to begin your wedding prep!

This post is written by Christie Wang, an instructor at Endurance Pilates and Yoga. It does not represent the beliefs, opinions or advice of Endurance Pilates and Yoga.