For all you runners out there, tips from Sean McKenna, MISCP Chartered Physiotherapist.
These Pilates moves strengthen the diaphragm, stretch tight muscles, and improve posture to help you run with less effort.
These six Pilates moves strengthen the diaphragm, stretch tight muscles, and improve posture—all of which help you run longer with less effort. Practice each exercise two or three times a week before you run.
1) THE HUNDRED
Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Keep your arms at your sides, palms down. Inhale and lift your head, neck, shoulders, and arms off the ground. Lift your knees and extend your feet so your legs are straight and at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Take five short breaths in and five short breaths out. While doing so, pump your arms, moving them in a controlled up and down manner. Do a cycle of 10 full breaths—each breath includes five inhales and five exhales. After you do 10 complete breaths, you will have completed 100 arm pumps.
The Payoff: Teaches controlled breathing, so that your inhales and exhales are balanced. Bonus: Builds strong abdominals.
2) THE SWAN
Lie face down with your palms flat under your shoulders (as if you were going to do a push-up). Look down so your neck is in line with your spine. Inhale and slowly lift your head, neck, shoulders, and chest as you press your hands into the ground. Keep a slight bend in your elbows. As you exhale, slowly lower yourself back down, chest first, then shoulders, neck, chin, and head. To avoid discomfort in your back, concentrate on pulling your shoulders back to open up your chest. Repeat 10 times.
The Payoff: Opens up the chest and deepens your lung capacity to correct shallow breathing.
3) STANDING CHEST EXPANSION
Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent, and your arms at your sides. Inhale and sweep your arms out and up so that your biceps are near your ears and your palms are facing each other. Exhale and lower your arms back down to your sides. Repeat four times, concentrating on breathing deep and opening your chest.
The Payoff: Stretches the intercostal muscles (which lie between the ribs), relaxes the shoulders, engages the diaphragm and pelvic floor, and helps balance breathing between the left and right lungs.
4) THE ROLL-UP
Lie on your back with your arms extended over your head and resting on the floor. Lift your arms and the head and roll upward, bending forward over your legs. Do this movement slowly and carefully with control. Each vertebra of the spine should lift off the ground one at a time. Take at least one full breath to roll up. Then on another breath, reverse and roll down with control, returning one vertebra at a time. Repeat five times.
The Payoff: Loosens up and elongates the lower back, hamstrings, and calves. Also improves core strength.
5) THE SAW
Sit up with your back straight back and your legs open wide (about the width of your shoulders). Extend your arms out to the sides of your body at shoulder height. As you inhale, twist your torso to the right. As you exhale, reach your left hand to the outside of your right foot. Then as you inhale again, return to the center. Exhale, and repeat on the other side. Try to keep your legs straight. If you can’t, bring the legs closer together and work to widen them over time. Do this exercise four times on each side.
The Payoff: Stretches the hamstrings and the quadratus lumborum muscle, which is responsible for lifting the hip as you swing forward into your stride.
6) THE ONE-LEG KICK
Lie face down on the floor with your legs and feet together. Lift your upper trunk, neck, and head while resting on your forearms for support. Your chest and head will be lifted and you should be looking forward. Tighten your abdominal muscles so that your belly is off the ground. Lift your feet off the ground. As you inhale, bend your right knee and bring your foot back toward your glutes. As you exhale, straighten your leg. Switch back and forth, repeating the exercise on each leg six times.
The Payoff: Stretches the quadriceps, opens the chest, and improves posture.
Check out Runners World for article.