The Advantages of Pilates as Cross-Training
Improving all around performance in your chosen sport
Pilates is synonymous with core conditioning but it isn’t the only motivation behind cross-training. A stronger core, improved neuromuscular control and the perfect blend of strength and flexibility will prevent injuries and improve your form. Better concentration, heightened body awareness and stronger stabilizing muscles will increase your stamina and help you not only reach your goals, but exceed them.
These are only a few contributing factors to why Pilates is the perfect cross-training program for all sports at all levels. From the treadmill to the Comrades, spinning to the Cape Epic, water aerobics or the Duzi – all athletes of all levels can benefit from Pilates. Come and experience the transformation yourself.
Pilates for Golf
According to the PGA Pro Mat Baird, there are three main areas that are necessary to focus on to improve your golf game and prevent injuries. These are your core, hamstrings and gluteal muscles and flexibility.
A strong core supports the spine and provides balance and rotation in the trunk. Thus reducing lower back pain (prevalent in amateur and professional golfers alike), preventing injuries and allowing for a consistently powerful swing.
Your hamstrings and gluteal muscles provide the base for correct golf posture from the set-up to the finish. They also aid in balance and preventing lower back pain. The BASI Pilates block system allows for part of your session to be dedicated to these specific areas whilst maintaining the integrity of a full body workout.
As you know, the greater your flexibility, the larger your range of motion. This allows you to move through your entire swing efficiently affecting the distance and accuracy of your shot. For golfers all over the world, BASI Pilates has proven to be a game changer. Fore!
Pilates for Tennis & Squash
You’re in good company when you make Pilates part of your game plan. Many professional players are turning to Pilates to help improve their game, prevent and recover from injuries. Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Venus and Serena Williams all include Pilates in their training programs.
Racquet sports demand powerful, repetitive one-sided dominant strokes with high impact, speed and rotations, including extensions through the spine.
You need strength, stability and good range of motion in your shoulder girdle to prevent injuries such as shoulder bursitis or rotator cuff disorders. That’s where Pilates becomes your best partner. All the loaded upper body exercises in Pilates inherently require strong shoulder stabilisers. The muscles in the forearms and wrists are also strengthened during the arm work exercises on all the Pilates equipment – which helps prevent tennis elbow.
If you are an avid tennis or squash player, Body Mechanix Pilates trainers also incorporate plyometric exercises which mimic movements performed on the court, for your benefit.
Pilates for Triathletes
Although there is a natural cross-training element in a triathlete’s exercise programme, strength and flexibility-based exercises puts you ahead of the pack.
By taking into consideration the intensity of the time and energy you invest in your training, Body Mechanix focuses on helping you attain symmetry in your body by working on the under-developed muscle groups within the context of a full-body workout. This will both enhance your performance, as well as reduce your risk of injuries. The practice of Pilates also fosters mental concentration and focus, both vital to triathletes.
For the further benefits of each different discipline, see the sections on Pilates for Cyclists, Pilates for Swimmers, and Pilates for Runners.
Pilates for Cyclists
Each sport involves a certain psyche that is developed through its habitual practice. Cyclists, whether road or mountain bikers, have incredible mental and physical endurance. It is this ability to focus and concentrate that helps cyclists adopt the Pilates method quite easily.
Although cyclists usually have well-developed leg muscles, they often lack balance and strength in their upper body. Pilates helps strengthen the upper body without adding bulk or weight to your body frame. By strengthening the core muscles, Pilates provides the trunk stability you need for a powerful pedal stroke. Think of how much more difficult it is to push off of an unstable surface than off a solid platform. At the same time, a strong core is important for spinal support.
Another important factor is the body’s position on a bike – it can lead to rounded shoulders and a forward head posture. Through a series of back extension and upper-body exercises, Pilates can provide the strength and flexibility to “open” the chest and shoulders, as well as bringing the head back into alignment with the rest of the spine.
Lastly, the flexed hip and knee position on the bike creates tight calves, hip flexors, hamstrings and lower back muscles. The beauty of the Pilates method is the creation of long, lean muscles which can be flexible without compromising strength.
Pilates for Swimmers
“In swimming, speed comes directly from the core, so Pilates helps immensely.”
—Dara Torres, competitor in 5 Olympics
Pilates training benefits swimmers in many ways. By increasing body awareness, swimmers find it easier to incorporate the correct techniques in the pool, and to become Pilates also ensures that the energy you exert in the water is directed at your swimming strokes, and not lost in unstable movements of the trunk, pelvis or shoulder girdle.
By learning to connect to your deep stabilising muscles while swimming, you increase your speed, improve your endurance and prevent injuries. Your stroke is also improved by the increased flexibility of your joints and the proper alignment of your body.
A Pilates programme for swimmers also places emphasis on breathing techniques which help strengthen your diaphragm and improve your lung capacity.
Pilates for Rugby & Other Contact Sports
Rugby epitomizes masculinity – a full-contact sport which demands power, stamina and speed. The forces exerted on rugby players’ bodies during the game wreak havoc on joints and the spine. Strong stabilizing muscles and flexibility help prevent injuries and improve player performance.
The stabilizing core muscles support the skeleton as well as increasing the efficiency of the larger, hard-working muscles. Flexibility is equally important in preventing injury during tackles or quick break-aways when your body may be contorted or twisted beyond its normal range.
To ensure optimum results from a Pilates programme for rugby players or for other contact sports, explosive plyometric exercises which mimic movements required on the field are incorporated into your session. Each class or programme can be adapted to suit the specific physical needs of each player.
Pilates for Runners
Whether you are a professional athlete or a weekend jogger, you are aware that although running is a great form of cardiovascular exercise, it places stress on your joints and ligaments which is why runners are advised to incorporate strength and flexibility training into their exercise routines. Better balance, mobility and posture will improve your running times and decrease your aches and pains.
What sets Pilates training apart from regular strength training is that attention is paid to re-establishing your ideal body alignment by correcting muscular imbalances. Asymmetry and imbalance in the body leads to the weakening of certain muscle groups so Pilates decreases your chances of injury.
Each Pilates session at Body Mechanix is a total body workout. It includes the rebalancing of muscle groups and correcting common postural mistakes. Emphasis is also placed on building your upper body strength and teaching you to connect with your core stabilizing muscles thereby improving your running gait.
Pilates for Knees Hips & Shoulders
Pilates is the perfect programme to compliment rehabilitation before or after joint replacements or arthroplasty.
Many orthopedic surgeons are prescribe preoperative Pilates training for their patients. It will increase your core strength and will start realigning the muscular imbalances caused by your injury or associated pain. This will aid a quicker recovery after surgery.
After consultation with your physical therapist, the team at Body Mechanix can assist you to regain postoperative functionality and strength. Focus is placed on the problem areas as well as on the entire body to maintain overall strength.
The adaptability of the work and specialized equipment allows for the reduction or the increase of load as necessary during your rehabilitation or retraining program. Improved muscular control, body awareness and balance will also aid you in your recovery.