Pilates for Runners

Our bodies are built to move.

The more we move, the better our joints, muscles and organs function. If we train a certain way, we can build strength in certain muscle groups and enhance our natural genetic ability. BUT, if we move too much in any one direction (repetitive movement) or if we stay sedentary for long periods (eg. Sitting), our body’s natural balance starts to weaken.

Running is a repetitive, high impact and high intensity activity.

It is right up there with jumping and contact sports in terms of potential for injury, but it is something that nearly anyone can do…..So how do we run safely and prevent injury before it even occurs?

The following Pilates exercises will work the muscles that cross and support the major joints involved in running. Train them correctly and you may even be able to throw out your compression socks and orthotics forever!

Any runners currently managing an acute injury should consult their personal medical practitioner or physiotherapist before attempting the program below.


Mountain climbers
Start: plank position, neutral spine, pelvic floor lifting (if unable to hold a plank, elevate your hands on your couch or a chair, so you take some weight out of the arms).
Inhale: lift L leg in a straight line
Exhale: bend L knee, driving it towards chest and returns to start position
Inhale: lift R leg in a straight line
Exhale: R leg bends towards chest and then returns to start position
REPEAT SIDE TO SIDE: 20 reps (beginner) [Symbol] 50 reps (advanced)

Donkey Kick

Start: on hands and knees, neutral spine, abdominals engaged
Exhale: kicking right leg directly behind the body, to a horizontal position, foot flat, SQUEEZE the R buttock and don’t arch the back.
Inhale: return knee to start position
Exhale: repeat on same side, R leg kicks back, foot flexed, butt squeezing
REPEAT: 20 reps on the R, then 20 on the L. Build to 30 reps each side.


Start: standing in a stride stance, one foot a large step forward of the other. Arches of feet lifted, pelvis slightly tucked under, abdominals engaged, hands on hips and spine long.
Inhale: bending both knees, descend straight down till the front knee is bent at 90 degrees and the back knee nearly touches the ground. The front knee presses outwards slightly, and the arch of the foot stays lifted. The hips stay level and square.
Exhale: Pushing through the front heel, straighten both legs back to the start position.
REPEAT: 15 each side, working up to 30 reps on each side. Advanced: add 20 pulses at the bottom of your last lunge on each side.


Stop Sign
Start: lying on your front, arms in the ‘cactus’ position (elbows and shoulders bent at 90 degrees). Forehead resting on the mat, tuck the pelvis slightly into the floor, and keep the glutes and abdominals slightly engaged.
Inhale: Draw the shoulder blades together.
Exhale: Lift the arms, head and chest up slightly off the floor, using the muscles in the middle and upper back.
Inhale: return to start position
REPEAT: 15 reps (beginners) [Symbol] 30 reps (advanced)
Modify by keeping the head on the ground and just lifting the arms, if the move is too strong for your neck or lower back.


Pelvic lift
Start: lying on your back, knees bent with feet on the floor hip-width apart
Inhale: Tuck the pelvis under and engage the abdominals.
Exhale: begin to roll up the spine, buttocks first, then one vertebrae at a time all the way up to the shoulder blades.
Inhale: ensure your abdominals are still engaged to protect the lower back and start to roll back down to the start position.
REPEAT: 15 reps (beginner) [Symbol] 30 reps (advanced).

These exercises can be performed as a warm up to your run, activating the muscles that stabilize the pelvis and spine. Following your run, don’t forget to stretch the legs, buttocks, and hips. Pilates and Yoga, done consistently, will create a better balance and awareness of the muscles we use when running and will make you a much more balanced runner. Rehabilitate your run today with our pilates classes on One Body…..No excuses, no injuries, no limits.

Katie Mackenzie



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