Pilates and the benefits for athletes
A combination of strength, relaxation, and stretching play a central role in a Pilates workout. Pilates is an ideal supplementary training for all athletes from the different disciplines because it focuses on the alignment of the body axes, the centre of the joints, the strengthening of the muscles surrounding the skeleton, and the effective networking of the movement muscles (ensuring that the muscles move more economically). Through the support of different body movements, the client is led through a variety of body movements to break old movement patterns, overcome stagnation in training, and optimise athletic performance.
Pilates is especially helpful in counterbalancing sports that overuse certain parts of the body (such as golf, tennis, and cycling) and that require a lot of flexibility and optimal stability (such as gymnastics and martial arts). Even marathon runners, rugby players, and sailors can achieve visible results with regular Pilates workouts. Pilates also helps in the prevention and rehabilitation of sports injuries.
The following discussed below are some of the benefits of pilates for athletes;
- Reducing the frequency and severity of injuries
By addressing postural issues and core strength through Pilates, athletes can avoid many common injuries. Instability through the pelvis is a common cause of lower back pain. The cause is often postural; an anterior pelvic tilt, which is often caused by tight hip flexors. This in turn shortens the low back muscles and brings the hamstrings into an over stretched position, leaving both areas vulnerable to injuries. Pilates is ideal for releasing the hip flexors, which help to bring the hips into a more neutral position and reduce stress on the back and thighs.
- Increased output power
The body can not generate powerful movements from an unstable position. Increased core stability is one of the key benefits of a Pilates program, allowing athletes to more effectively channel and maximise their strength. The extra stability through the hips and core that pilates develops can allow athletes to generate power from a multitude of positions. Many exercises in Pilates are one-sided, generating power and control in unstable positions, even through the “weak” side of an athlete.
- Increased body controls
The Reformer is a training device designed specifically for stretching, strengthening and creating awareness of which muscle groups to voluntarily switch on and off. It is designed to challenge the body in a variety of different ways, but in all of them, control is paramount. Pilates on the reformer gives more feedback to the athlete than traditional weights, machine-based or mat workouts. This feedback helps to raise awareness of where the limbs are with respect to the rest of the body and how they can correct their position as they move. Pilates will also create awareness of which muscles are working and how the necessary muscles are activated to ensure movement and stability. These motor patterns are refined through repetition over time and are directly transferable to the gym, tennis court, golf course, or during a long run.
Pilates asks you to motivate the mind to control the body. Once an athlete has learnt the body awareness through Pilates and how to voluntarily control muscle groups action and reaction. It can have a huge impact on performance by increased stamina, effectively reducing injury and assisting longevity of a sport.