Pilates Exercises and Sports Performance
Pilates exercise has been proven effective to enhance sports performance for many different sports. Specifically, Pilates is known to be beneficial for golfers, cyclists, equestrians, long and short-distance runners, as well as competitive divers, baseball, football and basketball players.
Benefits of Pilates include muscle balance, core strengthening and stability, improved focus and concentration, injury prevention, reduced stress and relief from back pain. Pilates aids in restoring muscle imbalances created by one-sided sports such as golf, baseball and tennis and can be utilized to build strength, power, endurance and precision for most if not all sports.
Golf requires trunk flexibility and stability, strong legs and glutes to help transfer the energy of ground force reactions, strong shoulders and lats to assist with control of the golf club and a strong core to support the body for the rigors of the repetitive swing motion. Back injuries are common with golfers and Pilates exercise can help golfers with relief of pain as well as help them gain more balanced muscular which helps prevent back pain and injuries.
Other rotational sports such as tennis and racquetball have similar requirements—players need a strong trunk and legs as well as shoulder stability for maximum power and energy transfer. Additionally, both sports require good balance skills for quick directional changes. Pilates also helps players increase endurance and concentration while helping to decrease the chance of injury.
Many sports are more linear such as running and cycling. It is easy for runners and cyclists to develop imbalances in their musculature due to the nature of their sports—always moving forward with little to no lateral motion. Both sports are lower body dominant with cyclists adding to their woes by being in constant forward flexion, overstretching the muscles in the upper back while the shoulders roll forward and the pectorals get tight. Adding Pilates to their repertoire can help runners and cyclists restore muscular imbalances in the legs by increasing the flexibility of tight quadriceps and hamstrings, strengthen the adductors and abductors to help the knees be more stable. Adding hip stability by taking the legs and hips into greater ranges of motion is of utmost importance as well.
Individuals competing in all sporting endeavors can benefit from the breathing, centering and concentration that Pilates demands. Whether it be stepping into the tee box, onto the tennis court or up to the starting line, all athletes can achieve a higher level of play when Pilates is added to their training routines.