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How Pilates for Runners Works

Pilates Workouts for Runners

Practicing Pilates works well for runners in general, but some exercises stretch and develop some particularly important areas. Here are a few of them.

Swimming. Lie on the mat face down with your legs straight. Extend your arms out so your entire body forms one long line, while keeping your shoulder blades as "open" as possible. Pull your abdomen up. Then, reach out with your arms and legs (both will lift off the floor). The idea is to make your body as long as possible. Your head will also lift off the floor -- make sure you keep your face toward the floor and keep your neck as straight as possible. Alternate between reaching out opposite arms and legs and small, subtle stretching movements that will feel like you're taking an imaginary swim. Inhale for five "strokes," then exhale for five.

Standing Chest Expansion. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms hanging at your sides. Slowly lift your arms to the side until they're above your head, with your palms facing each other and biceps at your ears. Inhale slowly and deeply as you do this, concentrating on opening and filling your lungs as much as possible. Reverse the movement, exhaling as you move your hands back down to your sides.

Side Kick. This is a somewhat complicated maneuver, so find a good Pilates instructor or book to make sure you're using the correct form and movements. Essentially, while lying on your side, swing the top leg out in front of you, then behind you, repeating several times. Then swing the top leg up as far as you can, repeating several times before switching sides. This exercise is a prime example of how Pilates works out your entire body. It stretches the groin, hamstring and quad muscles, but most of the work is done by the abdominal and back muscles.

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