The pilates reformer is the foundation of Joseph Pilates work, he started with machines and adapted the exercises to create a mathwork programme as well. His earlier work was in prisoner of war camps where he rehabilitated the injured, he used springs and pulleys to strengthen, rehabilitate and improve mobility.
The reformer is a great piece of kit for runners, it can be used to strengthen weaker deep muscles by encouraging correct muscle recruitment. For example it can be used to strengthen the glutes with specific exercises that switch off the hip flexors and make the glutes perform the movement, strengthening the glutes will improve the efficiency of running and stride cadence, and help power you up those hills. Specific exercises can be done to isolate the little terror gluteus medius – responsible for a lot of hip problems in runners. Glute med can either be over active or under active in runners with variances between right and left. If you are a runner who flicks their feet out on toe off, glute med is over active and needs retraining, if glute med is under active you may suffer with lower back pain as well as hip pain when running. The reformer strengthens the VMO (vastus medalis oblique) – the knee stabiliser, as it enables full extension of the knee joint for the muscle to fire without risk to the knee joint itself, it isolates the VMO so that the main quadriceps muscles can’t take over and do the work, therefore helping prevent knee injures.
The reformer can be used to improve range of motion and flexibility. Lots of runners suffer with tight hip flexors which can lead to short stride length, lower back pain, poor posture, weak core stability and pelvis issues. Stretching the hip flexors on the reformer can be done in different positions to find the most effective stretch for you without putting stress on the lower back or pelvis. The reformer is also great for stretching the hamstrings and calves which as a runner myself, we know we don’t stretch enough.
The reformer also improves core stability and joint stability which is really important for injury prevention. The movement of the carriage, pulleys and springs challenge the stabilising muscles throughout full ranges of muscle movement, this cannot be replicated on the mat and is unique to the machine.
We have designed a specific runners remedy class using the reformer, the tower, the wunda chair and matwork to help improve running technique, and efficiency, and aid injury prevention. For more info contact Sarah.
Reformer demos click the link to see some exercise demos on the reformer.