Pilates for Athletes
Pilates is not the latest exercise fad used by celebrities. Today it is being used by athletes involved in many different sports to help them enhance athletic performance, improve technique and prevent injuries.
Pilates is a mind/body exercise method that is designed to give you strong and flexible muscles without adding bulk. It focuses on strengthening the core stabilizing muscles of the body, including the pelvic floor, deep abdominals, buttock muscles and the muscles that support the shoulder girdle and rotator cuff. At the same time, Pilates exercises work on increasing flexibility of the most often overused larger, tighter, major muscle groups.
The philosophy behind Pilates is to retrain the mind and therefore the body, to use muscles more efficiently and save energy. One of the most overlooked areas to strengthen for athletes is their “core”. There are several layers of abdominal muscles all of which are targeted by Pilates. The buttock muscles are also very important in stabilizing the pelvis particularly for running and cycling activities. Using your body’s core generates the real power in your push off, pedal stroke or pull through the water. Much of your energy comes from this area. By transferring that core energy to your extremities, you’ll get more power out of your stroke or stride. Athletes are generally strong through their larger muscle groups and quite weak through the smaller stabilizing muscles. Just doing sit-ups and squats won’t strengthen these muscles. The larger muscles will continue to get stronger and the weaker muscles will continue to get weaker. A consistent Pilates routine will ensure that proper stretching becomes an integral part of your training program. The core muscle groups will work synergistically to make the spine more supple. The tight muscles will lengthen and promote healthy blood circulation and lubrication to your joints. This will not only improve your range of motion but also your cardiovascular health as the deep breathing promotes healthy circulation throughout the whole body and your spine will also become more supple and pliable.
Joseph Pilates believed that every person is an athlete and we all have a right to be strong and healthy.
“Above all else, learn how to breathe correctly.” Joseph Pilates
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