Why Pilates Will Make a Difference To Your Sporting Life
Thinking that Pilates is just for the church hall and nothing to do with serious sportspeople? Think again.
Pilates is featuring more and more in elite sports training programmes across a whole range of different disciplines. But why are athletes turning to Pilates at an ever increasing frequency?
Power Up Your Powerhouse
Pilates exercises are sourced from our Centre or Powerhouse. The Powerhouse extends from the bottom of our ribs, through our hips and includes the abdominal muscles, lower back muscles, pelvic floor, hip musculature and the gluteals. The Powerhouse muscles create a supportive and protective cylinder around our trunk, stabilizing our body and helping give our major movements their kinetic force.
Pilates was designed at the outset to stabilise and develop our Powerhouse and provide a strong, flexible framework from which our other structures hang. Arms, legs and shoulder girdle — these all depend on the Powerhouse for their stability.
When you develop a solid and stable powerhouse you are able to generate more dynamic power and channel that power more effectively into focused and controlled movement. Pilates does this by improving your kinematic chain, the interconnected muscles, ligaments, nervous system and bones you use when you move. When these work in tighter unison, involving less counter-productive motion then you generate more power and deliver that power more efficiently to the point of application.
Developing a solid Powerhouse is one of the major reasons elite athletes turn to Pilates. With your Powerhouse strong and stable you have a solid base from which to develop your technique, stamina and strength
Resilience To and Recovery From Injury
Injuries are the bane of all sports people’s lives. They disrupt our training and competition schedules and they are a significant factor in terminating our sporting careers. Prevention of, treatment of and rehabilitation from injury are all essential to career longevity.
The root cause of many injuries will often lie in some form of body imbalance. When we train in a sport we often repeat the same set of movements over and over again as we perfect our technique. Our strong muscle groups get stronger and our less utilised muscles get weaker by comparison. The smaller muscles, so essential to providing joint stability, are not recruited as effectively because we are stuck in our large muscle groups trying to generate increased power. Our strength training programmes will also have us working our major muscle groups, often causing us to develop short, inelastic muscle fibres that are prone to tear when stressed. Our adductor-abductor pairings become out of balance.
All of this creates postural misalignment and instability which in turn, leaves us open to injury.
A well designed Pilates programme will combat these imbalances, restore our postural alignment and create a solid foundation for any sports person to build upon in their training. This is why Pilates has made significant in-roads into elite sports – cricket, swimming, rowing, rugby, American football – to name but a few, are all using Pilates in their training strategies.
STOTT PILATES can also help speed up your recovery from injury.
Using the STOTT PILATES Reformer enables therapists to design a programme of exercise targeting the the root cause issues of the injury, helping you to mobilise earlier and recover quicker.
Studies have shown, for example, that STOTT PILATES provides a superior management technique in rehabilitating partial Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) ruptures. The ability to progressively develop strength and stability in the knee through the use of the Reformer means mobilisation can start earlier. The feedback from the equipment helps accelerate proprioception (awareness of posture, balance or position through stimulation of the proprioceptors located within muscles, tendons and joints) which helps overcome the feeling of imminent knee collapse that often goes alongside an ACL tear, thus helping to build confidence in our ability to move safely.
All of our Physiotherapists are trained STOTT PILATES teachers and incorporate Pilates in their therapy and rehabilitation activities.
For most sports, success lies within great technique. Getting the right movements made with the right timing, the right force and then leading gracefully to the next movement with poise is the vision. Well, you’ve just described Pilates.
To do Pilates properly you require great body awareness, concentration and mind-body connection; all factors that Joseph Pilates designed from the outset into the core of his exercise system.
Pilates reinforces the bond between mind and muscle, building awareness of which muscles are working and how to activate the ‘correct’ muscles to provide movement and stability. The use of the Reformer and other STOTT PILATES equipment helps us to internalise these connections more quickly and as these ‘muscle memories’ develop they become directly transferable to our chosen sport.
In order for the body to generate powerful movements it has to be stable. Increased Powerhouse stability is one of the key benefits of a Pilates programme, enabling athletes to channel and maximise their power output more effectively.
Many Pilates exercises help develop strength and control whilst in unstable positions which benefits all sports people by increasing their range of effective application. Recreational sports people benefit in particular though as the underlying postural issues that reduce power output and stability are more prevalent in this group as they don’t have access to the same level of intensive coaching as elite sports people.
Many top flight cyclists, Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins for example, use Pilates to create upper body stability that enables them to focus on delivering maximum output into the cycle’s power train.
Life After Your Sporting Career
Many sportspeople who have played their sports for a long period of time develop residual problems arising from the strain that they have placed on their bodies over their playing career. In a recent study of elite athletes who had terminated their careers through injury, the majority (70%) reported that their injury caused them mild or moderate permanent disability of one form or another.
Pilates is ideal for realigning the spine and re-establishing good posture. Back pain, one of the most common problems impacting retired athletes, is helped hugely by Pilates. A major focus of STOTT PILATES is to develop the awareness necessary to recruit and strengthen the deep stabilizing muscles supporting the spine and promote effective breathing patterns, all of which alleviate stress on the back. STOTT PILATES builds core strength by engaging the deep pelvic floor, which in turn works the transversus abdominus and affects the positioning of other structures in the lumbopelvic region, all providing support for the lower back.
What Top Flight Athletes Say About Pilates
Still not convinced? See what a few of the many top flight athletes using Pilates have to say about it: