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Reformer Series: STOTT PILATES® for Runners

Pilates for Runners

Adding STOTT PILATES to a running practice has extraordinary benefits. The attention to building up strength in the core, the ability to locate and work on specific, weak muscles, and the focus on the connection of body and mind all combine to significantly increase a runner's game.

The nature of speed and distance running—the stress on the joints, the repetitive movements, the required reserves of endurance—means that picking up a running habit can mean developing a host of common physical issues, from damaged Achilles tendons to Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, or pain in the knees. STOTT PILATES makes an excellent addition to a runner's regimen—not only does working on a Reformer offer a chance to exercise muscles while relieving stress on the joints, it also works on alignment, balancing and muscle activation around the joints. STOTT PILATES can help mobilize the ankle and provide a greater range of dorsiflexion, which can help address Achilles tendon issues.

Runners tend to focus on technique and actually running, rather than overall conditioning. This means they may not work on upper body strength, core strength, or the integration of all the body parts together. STOTT PILATES helps with integrating the whole body, rather than only looking at the lower kinetic chain, and the focus on bringing symmetry to the body makes it an ideal addition to any running program. Running is a symmetrical movement, as opposed to playing sports like hockey or tennis or baseball, which are very one-sided.

Though balancing muscles isn't necessarily the same as symmetry, it's related, and also has implications for runners. For example, ideally there is enough strength in the medial quad as in the lateral quad to make sure that the knee joint is functioning in the most efficient way it can.

Without balanced muscles and physical symmetry, runners may be prone to overuse injuries. When a muscle is weak, or an aspect of the body or movement asymmetrical, the body will find a way to compensate, which is going to cause more stress on the structures, on the soft tissues of the body, which can result in traumatic injuries.

Because of the emphasis STOTT PILATES places on balancing muscles and moving symmetrically, STOTT PILATES students who want to become runners already have an edge over others who haven't previously trained. STOTT PILATES strengthens all muscles required for running; abductors, adductors, glutes, quads and hamstrings. It also lengthens those tight muscles that most of us have—hip flexors, hamstrings and calves.

The following exercise uses a Stability Cushion to create a double unstable surface, so that the deep stabilizers have to work so that you don't fall off the cushion, scapular stabilization in the lateral and medial chains. This exercise works the bottom and top side abductors, which control the ground contact of the foot when running.


Starting Position

Place the Stability Cushion on the Reformer carriage. Lie in a side plank position with the Stability Cushion under the hip. The bottom arm is bent and rests on the carriage. Keep both legs straight, slightly abducted/apart with the handle of one strap around the ball of the top foot, with the strap in front of the body.


  1. Inhale – Bend the top knee towards the chest to 90 degrees
  2. Exhale – Straighten the top leg and return to starting position


Place the top foot in the handle of the strap, with the strap behind the body. Use the same breath pattern as above, as you bend your top knee and bring your heel towards your hip.

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