Running is a high impact sport that can place the joints under a lot of stress. It is a great exercise for improved cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance (and our headspace!) but when practised in high volumes running can quickly take its toll on the body and niggles and injuries may present themselves.
Barre classes are an excellent choice of complimentary training for a runner. Not only do barre classes work to strengthen those smaller stabilising muscles that running does not, but they also give us a chance to take a slow and steady approach to our training. Additionally, although they're tough, barre classes are very low impact so will not place the body under further stress while strengthening the very important core stabilising muscles and helping maintain good biomechanics under fatigue.
We've put together the key reasons why every runner should try a barre class.
Runners often end up at the physio due to issues caused by weak hip abductors and hip rotators — the very muscles that we hone throughout our class. Hello, pliés, side leg lifts and clams!
Increasing strength around your hips and external rotators helps you learn to control your hips and pelvis, preventing your knees from falling or caving inward when you're out for a run. The slow and steady nature of a barre class allows you to truly focus on alignment, ensuring that your knees are tracking well over your toes, and your glutes and stabilising muscles are firing well for this to happen. This awareness is especially helpful when we’re running downhill.
Working on your external rotator muscles can protect runners from enduring common injuries such as hip impingement, ITB syndrome, or just simple hip, knee, and ankle pain.
As a runner, barre workouts strengthen your glutes, hip and legs 360 degrees.
Barre workouts strengthen every area of your legs and glutes, from quads to hips, glutes, to calves. You will run stronger, more efficiently, and with greater endurance.
Foot stability and strength is inherent in a barre class and is very transferable to running. Often in relevé (where our heels are elevated), we’re forced to stretch and hold our feet in challenging positions. When we are in relevé, we learn to work hard to keep balanced and to weight bear correctly through the feet.
Learning where the weight should correctly bear through your feet is vital for runners, especially those who tend to roll their ankles.
Barre, yoga and pilates place a strong focus on synchronising breath with movement, including diaphragmatic expansion. Learning to breathe well throughout a barre or yoga class will give you greater awareness and control of how you are breathing when you run. Having the ability to control your breathing improves your focus, allows the diaphragm to fully expand which allows for better oxygenation through the bloodstream to increase endurance and slow onset of fatigue.
And above this, breathing well gives you a greater connection to your powerhouse – the core!
Barre classes are great for core strength, which functions to keep your body in line while you run. A strong, solid centre helps propel you forward while keeping your middle relatively still so you're not rotating side to side which can increase the wear and tear on your joints and tendons.
For those who have been to a barre class, you know how much we focus on the core. It’s not just about doing as many sit-ups as possible though, it’s about learning to move your body well from your core, for great stability. These deep core muscles are vital for creating strong runners.
A common misconception is that the core is just the abdominals; but it includes the stabilising muscles of the hips, back, shoulders and neck. For runners it is particularly important to have strong lower abdominals and hip stabilising muscles so that excess stress isn’t placed through the lower back and lower limb joints which can lead to injury. Learning correct engagement of the core muscles around the back, neck and shoulders also promotes upper body relaxation and a more upright running posture.
Barre classes are low impact, giving your muscles a chance to strengthen without placing excess stress on the joints.
Rather than pounding the pavement day after day, take a step back and focus on strength.
If you’ve had a running injury too and need an alternative (we know how addictive running can be) barre is a great swap to aid your recovery. Just be sure to let the instructor know before class, and we can offer a few suggestions or swaps.
Stretching and mobility is a major focus in our online classes, another area that many runners neglect! Barre is ideal for runners who need to lengthen their hamstrings, open their hips and increase overall mobility. So many of our runners have tight hips, so barre classes are a great way to open those hips through strength and stretching exercises simultaneously – we even have a stretch class designed just for runners!
A happy and healthy body needs to be just as mobile as it is strong.
Barre Base Anywhere classes take a balanced approach to movement, focusing on both strengthening and stretching different areas of your body for total full-body mobility.
Barre Base Anywhere classes promote blood flow so will help reverse any negative side effects such as muscle soreness and tightening which may occur after a long run or quality training session. Instead of the muscles constantly shortening during running, barre classes will assist with muscle lengthening to improve joint mobility and flexibility.
Testimonial from runner, Shauna Pali
"Barre Base allows me to work on my flexibility and strength at the same time. I was immediately aware of the weaknesses I have, and these corresponded to what the Physio had been working on with me. I love the idea that barre acts as a preventative to injury rather than a treatment of. In such a short time I have noticed the benefits. With running hours every week, I found it hard to keep on top of my core, hip alignment, glutes and lower back. Barre works on all this in almost every exercise. The focus is never on how many or how heavy but on the technique. I love that there is always a variety."