Pilates can have a positive effect on both team and individual sports and is increasing in popularity on the international circuit. Many teams and athletes are incorporating Pilates into their training and exercise programmes to enhance athletic performance, improve technique and prevent injury. It can also improve mental focus and lung capacity.
Pilates addresses postural issues via correct structural alignment, which can help to minimise or eliminate common injuries. Injury often prevails when the body is pushed to an extreme that it cannot cope with due to poor posture from weak or tight muscles. Impact on the body can often lead to ‘overuse’ injuries. Sarah can assess movement to identify the area of weakness and assist in re-educating the body through alignment, as athletes tend to over-develop major muscle groups and underuse the smaller groups. Pilates emphasises symmetry within the body, which is vital to create equilibrium, particularly in racket sports as there tends to be a dominant and non-dominant side of the body.
Based upon the classical repertoire, Sarah adapts sessions towards more functional exercises. Weights, wobble boards and gliders are also used to replicate some of the actions and stresses reflected in the sporting environment.
The Reformer challenges the body via the element of strength (increased resistance) and instability (decreased resistance) in addition to flexibility of the muscles and joint mobility. All elements are required to develop control, which is pivotal to performance. The Reformer has the advantage of giving an athlete more feedback than free weights, resistance machines or mat work. Sarah is trained to recognise muscular tightness within the body, which limits the range of movement at a joint, therefore an athlete’s action is often forced rather than controlled.
The Reformer assists in identifying where the limbs are in relation to the rest of the body and how to correct a position whilst moving. This is key within the sports environment as athletes need good body awareness to activate muscles correctly. These motor patterns are fine-tuned over time and are therefore transferable to the gym, court, pitch, track etc.
Pilates can enhance core stability by encouraging athletes to engage the core rather than focussing exclusively on a limb. This allows athletes to channel forces more efficiently and essentially stabilise the body to produce a more effective power output. Sarah also promotes the use of breath to help align movement, which will increase muscle-firing activity and focus the mind.
An athlete who can adopt core stability, whether it be pelvic, spinal, or shoulder, will enhance their performance in sport which often requires movement in unorthodox positions. Stability at a joint allows the potential muscle recruitment to be more effective as length is maintained. Equally, mobility at a joint is of paramount importance to access the correct muscles. Pilates exercises are often unilateral, which challenges control and strength in unstable positions encouraging an athlete’s weaker side to become active. Sarah identifies the strength and flexibility imbalances within the body to optimise performance.
- Improve body awareness and position relative to the sport.
- Increase mobility and flexibility to increase efficiency.
- Address the imbalance of muscle shortening, which can be caused by repetition in sport, and therefore correct asymmetry within the body.
- Enhance core and pelvic control to improve efficiency-proximal support for distal power.
- Reduces the risk of injury.
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