The Benefits of Pilates for Runners

Hope you all had a marvelous weekend, and made a big deal over the mothers in your life!

I am feeling refreshed from a few days at the beach with some of my best girlfriends, and came home to sweet notes, ice cream, and a spa day to use this week.  It’s always nice to have the chance to miss my daughter and remember how lucky I am to spend time with her every day.


The beach was perfect- gorgeous weather and time with two of my best girlfriends.  We’ve known each other since elementary school (crazy!) and they were in my wedding nearly ten years ago.  Friends like that are extra special and after doing so much of the “get to know you” thing this year in a new town, it was incredibly refreshing to be with people who already know me (probably too well!)

Beach weekend

I also got in a number of walks or walk/runs and we did a short strength session together.

I was reminded lately of the importance of Pilates for pregnancy, and for runners in general.  The exercises are gentle enough for a beginner, but challenging enough for advanced athletes as well.

Pilates includes all of the following benefits:

  • a focus on core strength
  • balance
  • flexibility
  • posture
  • coordination

Each of those are crucial for runners.  We often neglect to work on balance, flexibility and posture.  Any weaknesses in those areas will eventually show up in overuse injuries.

In addition, pregnant runners especially benefit from Pilates because of the focus on the pelvic floor.  Pregnancy stretches out these muscles which can lead to inconveniences (such as less bladder control, waking up to pee multiple times a night) or weak muscle control.  After menopause, a weak pelvic floor can lead to prolapse (where the pelvic organs move down).

A stronger pelvic floor improves labor and delivery (stronger muscles for pushing the baby out) and prevents other issues down the road.

Kegels are the standard pelvic floor exercise, but many Pilates exercises also help to strengthen them, including leg lifts, bridges and core work.

This is a fantastic article about the importance of squats for pelvic floor strengthening (and a smoother, stronger labor and delivery).  Plus, it emphasizes the fact that pregnancy does not cause pelvic floor disorders- all women should be aware of these muscles.

If you’re pregnant, are you working on your pelvic floor?

If you’re not pregnant, do you include Pilates or other core and pelvic stability exercises?


37 thoughts on “The Benefits of Pilates for Runners

  1. Awww glad you had a wonderful weekend Laura! I am still very jealous! I have been doing yoga, which I think helps a lot, but I am sure pilates would help even more. I am worried about adding too much to my plate though as my body is pushed near the limit. Hopefully I move somewhere that I can do one of each a week! Interesting read about the pelvic floor…..good to know.
    Tina Muir recently posted..Meatless Monday: Hearty Strawberry Shortcake Oatmeal PancakesMy Profile

  2. Sounds like you had a great weekend!! That Breaking Muscle article is great and also something that we talked a lot about in YTT. It’s fascinating to me and so important to learn more about our pelvic floor muscles! I love pilates. I don’t do it nearly enough.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..On WritingMy Profile

  3. I’ve never really done Pilates but want to try. I do have to add my own “testimonial” though about overall core strength improving pelvic floor strength — for almost 17 YEARS I have had trouble with, uh you know, those bladder problems that happen and seem to stick around after pregnancies. At some points the prolapse was bad enough that Dr. suggesting surgery, but I am (thankfully) stubborn and a skerdy cat and didn’t want to do surgery — one main reason is that I didn’t want to take time off from running (ironically although this is where all the embarrassing stuff was happening). Anyway, after doing CrossFit for a couple years I have really built up my overall strength and viola — no more problems! Really, it’s amazing!
    Jennifer F recently posted..Black Bean, Avocado & Corn Salad + Stability Ball WODMy Profile

  4. I’ve never done pilates but I’ve always wanted to take a class!
    I’m glad you had a fun beach weekend with your girlfriends and a good Mother’s Day-you deserved it!

  5. Sounds like an awesome weekend!! I really should be better about working in more core work since I have now had 2 C-Sections and I need to build those muscles back up!
    Fancy Nancy recently posted..Monday MotivationMy Profile

  6. Nothing better than spending time with best friends you’ve known your whole life! So glad you were able to get away. As far as Pilates, I can tell you first hand that I don’t run a big race without incorporating it into my training plan– it does all of the above, which leads to faster times and more PR’s!
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..Comment on 7 Ways to Ease Muscle Soreness by 9 Nutrition and Fitness Posts You Should Read – Diary of a Semi-Health NutMy Profile

  7. While not Pilates, yoga and planks were my best buds with our first pregnancy.

    Now that we’re having twins, I’ve researched what core workouts are best given the new dynamics. I’ve yet to find a think minus no low planks.

    Right now I’m listening to my body with yoga, doing plank repeats, and modifying away as best.
    Wendy recently posted..Double the Love (Twins!)My Profile

  8. I used to be a huge Pilates fan, but have to admit that since I found yoga, I have not practiced Pilates more than a few times.

  9. Sounds like a fabulous weekend! Love the thought that being away from loved ones gives you a chance to miss them. That’s exactly how I felt after a week away from my girls. All weekend long I just wanted to hug and kiss them. Then I was ready to send them off to school this morning!

    YES to pelvic exercises for mamas, mamas-to-be, and all women. I need to get back to Pilates class!
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..Perks of Business TravelMy Profile

  10. I’m convinced that pilates is like preventive physical therapy! It’s made all the difference to me… never more obvious than when I go a few weeks without it.

  11. I did pelvic floor exercises all throughout both pregnancies (kegels, squats and pelvic rocks)and I believe it made a difference in my deliveries, judging that I didn’t tear with both of them! I always advise pregnant women to do as many pelvic floor exercises throughout their pregnancy as possible and if nothing else, just squat! 🙂
    Melissa @ Fit ‘n’ Well Mommy recently posted..Marvelous Time At the Beach and Look Who Turned 3 Months!My Profile

  12. My mom actually just had surgery (in and out) for the problem of peeing when you sneeze or run due to having kids…so hopefully I never had to go through that! But I really need to be better about doing core work. I definitely slack on that because I hate doing abs! Thanks for the reminder though 🙂
    Patty @ Reach Your Peak recently posted..Chemicals In Beauty ProductsMy Profile

  13. I love that you spent time with your oldest friends – so comforting!! And YES to having a chance to miss and appreciate your kids. Every mom needs that. As for Pilates, I plan on dedicating my summer to yoga and Pilates and I cannot wait! I feel my muscles relaxing at the mere thought of it!
    Allie recently posted..The Countdown: W(h)ine Week!My Profile

  14. I totally found out the hard way about the importance of pelvic floor strength after Jack was born. I think giving birth a second time put so much more pressure on already weakened muscles. I’ve learned just how important core strength, posture and flexibility are in keeping me going as a runner. I take barre, but pilates is very similar and the target the same areas and are so great for runners!
    Sarah @RunFarGirl recently posted..A New Perspective: Volunteering at the Big Lake Half MarathonMy Profile

  15. Pingback: Workout Recap and meal plan |

  16. Pingback: Pilates for Runners: 6 Exercises to do at home |

  17. Pingback: How I Stay Injury-Free in Running

Comments are closed.