Tag Archives: piriformis syndrome

Why Barre Classes Might Be the Perfect Cross-Training for Runners

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Photo credit: purebarre.com

With their focus on strengthening core, butt, and thighs, barre classes might just be what the doctor ordered to prevent running injuries.

Most runners are no stranger to injury, and that has certainly been the case for me. Like many people who run, once I get into the running groove, that’s really all I want to do. Cross-training and isometrics seem boring, and weights don’t interest me at all. I do love yoga, but I have to be really careful—I tend to be hyperflexible and there are poses that may not pair quite so well with running (in fact, I just tweaked my knee, but more on that another time).

For me, the most important complement to running is strength training. Specifically, the strength that balances the actions of running. That’s why I’m so excited about barre classes. I’ve had an on-and-off issue with piriformis syndrome and an occasional IT band issue. The most commonly prescribed exercises to address those issues, specifically things like clam shell exercises, really help—when I can make myself do them. And this time I’ve determined I will do what’s necessary. I mentioned in my last post I’m serious about coming back to running, which means I also need to be serious about appropriate strength training and cross training. Enter barre.

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Barre classes target core, butt, and thighs, all the muscles that are hugely important to strong and—and safe—running. (There’s also upper-body work.) And unlike yoga, in which there’s as much emphasis (if not more) on being stretchy and using groups of muscles in conjunction, barre is almost all about isolated movements to build strength. (Warning: You will shake holding some of those positions!) Barre feels like a laserlike workout to strengthen the areas that are least likely to get a workout any other way, and I especially felt the side-to-side movements working the places that needed it the most. Pilates, of course, is similar in its laserlike focus, but unlike most pilates classes, barre is set to music, moves quickly, and feels like it’s over almost before you’ve gotten started. (That hour goes quickly!) And as in ballet, it’s a workout that makes you feel more feminine even as you get stronger. Which is really cool.

There are lots of versions of barre classes out there. I took a local Boston-based style (because it’s the closest to me), but I expect I will try Pure Barre at some point just for a comparison. I will also probably buy a DVD, as I think I’ll probably supplement the classes, which are not cheap, with at-home workouts.

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Here’s one 10-minute workout from FitSugar. (Don’t let the less-than-ideal name—or brevity—fool you, it’s pretty killer.)

Have you tried a barre class? If you run, which strength training exercises do you like best?

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