Words & Photography by Silke Kuchinke
Silke from Oh Come on Berlin! takes us through some simple pilates moves, to help strengthen and condition the body for a better run, and a better day.
As a runner, it is extremely important to work on the stability of the abdominal and back muscles.
This strengthens and builds endurance of abdominals, specifically the obliques. Challenge rotation. By using the roller, you have to stay even more in the crunch, so you work harder. Try this 10 times with each leg.
Strengthens the hip extensors and relaxes the sacrum ( lower back ). Strengthens the hamstrings and builds endurance of abdominals.
Place the soft pilates ball under your sacrum, the lower back. Press your arms into the mat, shoulders relaxed. Stretch out your legs and alternately lower each leg towards the mat. Pause for a moment before changing between legs. Repeat this 10 times for each leg. Only go down with your leg as far as is comfortable and stable on the ball, that your back is not hyperextended.
Leg Pull Front
Strengthens and aligns the torso. Challenges shoulder stability as it strengthens the powerhouse!
Move down into a push-up position. Hands under the shoulders – properly! Fingers and thumbs together. Head, shoulders, hips and heels kept in a straight line. Abdominals lifted and held to maintain a straight and supported back.
Raise one leg up in line with the hip, making sure to keep it straight. Extend and stretch the leg out long, as your supporting heel on the ground stretches back. Lower the lifted leg, and allow the heel presses forward and returns over the toes. Repeat with the other leg. Try this 10 times with each leg.
Strenghtens the hip exensors and hamstrings. Teaches separation of the hip and leg in a challenging body position. Improves coordination.
Keep your pelvis lifted high whilst pressing your arms firmly into the mat. Lower the leg toward the mat keeping the pelvis level and lifted in opposition. Lengthen the leg out from the hip. Kick the leg back up, maintaining the height of the pelvis and keeping movement within the width of the collarbones. Try this 10 times with each leg.
Spine Stretch Forward
Stretches the lower lumbar, spine and hamstrings. Promotes an emptying of the lungs. Teaches you how to sit up and out of the hips, utilising the powerhouse.
The goal is not to take the legs straight or fully stretched out too far, but to concentrate on curling the head back toward the spine, pulling the navel in and up to the spine, and exhaling completely. Focus on teaching the 'C-curve' in the lower back as you stretch. This is a specific difference to yoga! If you do the stretch without a roller, your arms stay parallel next to your ears.
When stretching with a roller, your fingers keep pushing the roller forward. The toes are flexed, so your hamstrings are stretched.The belly pulls in deep and you stretch your lower back backwards into the C-curve. Some people will notice this stretch up to their buttocks ( periformis ). Try it with 10 repetitions. Enjoy!
Strengthens the spinal extensors. Challenges coordination in alternating arm and movement with breath work.
Lie on your stomach, with your forehead and pelvis on the mat. Arms reach out long across the mat in line with the shoulders. Thumbs and fingers together. Legs together in parallel, stretched out down and long in opposition to the arms. Abdominal muscles scooped in and pulled up!!!
Lift your head, raise and extend your right arm and left leg up off the mat. Eyes and sternum lifted to the front. Arm and leg are the kept raised to the same height. Your back is kept long with abdominals firmly scooped in and up.
Inhale for five counts, then exhale for five counts. Keep your chest lifted and your torso still, alternate lifting and lowering the arms and legs without touching the mat. Try it with 10 repetitions each side.
Lift higher and swim harder! Lower the whole body to the mat simultaneously.