Most people may think that athletes only work out and train during the season specific to the sport they play. But that’s certainly not the case! Pre-season workouts are extremely important for athletes and we have the answer: PILATES!
“What professional dancers discovered years ago, the NFL, NBA, MLB and more are discovering now – that Pilates is one of the best forms of conditioning a top-tier athlete can participate in.” So why is this?
- According to Balanced Body, “Pilates’ integration of the trunk, pelvis and shoulder girdle and emphasis on proper breathing, correct spinal and pelvic alignment and smooth flowing movement allow athletes to access each part of the body individually, and become familiar with the functional mechanics.”
- Reduces the frequency and severity of injury
- Low back pain is frequently caused by instability of the low back, usually from an anterior pelvic tilt caused by tight hip flexors. This will shorten the lower back muscles and pull the hamstrings into a stretched position which may lead to increased injury. Pilates is an extremely successful way to release the tight hip flexors and bring the hips to a neutral position to reduce the strain on the back.
- Pilates will increase body control
- The reformer is designed to challenge the body in a variety of different ways, but requires a great amount of body control. Reformer Pilates gives more feedback to the athlete than traditional weights, machine-based or mat workouts. This in turn raises awareness of proprioception (where the limbs are in relation to the rest of the body) and how to correct their position when moving. Pilates will also build awareness of which muscles are working and how to activate the ‘correct’ muscles to provide movement and stability. “These motor patterns are fine-tuned through repetition over time, and are directly transferable to the gym, pitch, court course or track.”
- Pilates will increase power output
- The body cannot generate powerful movements from a position of instability. Increased core stability is one of greatest benefits of Pilates to allow athletes to maximize their power in the most effective way.
- The extra stability through the hips and core that Pilates develops can allow athletes to generate power. Many Pilates exercises are unilateral, generating strength and control in unstable positions even through an athlete’s ‘weak’ side.
So, as you can see, Pilates is extremely beneficial and important for athletes especially during pre-season training, but also throughout the entire year. Below you will see this work in action with Emily who is gearing up for her soccer season beginning in a few weeks. Emily is completing a plank series and some scissor kicks to strengthen her core. Click the links to view the videos.