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Pilates Benefits for Athletes

Photo via Pilates.Answers.Com

A client of mine recently shared with me how surprised she was to win her weekend tennis tournament. A mother of three grown children and past what many may consider the prime age for athletics, my client chalked up her win to two things; her new tennis racket and….PILATES! It is always so incredibly rewarding to hear about my clients’ progress and how Pilates has helped them feel stronger and healthier throughout their entire life. My client’s tennis success inspired me to share the many ways Pilates can help athletes of all ages and skill levels improve their performance.

Core Strength: This is the easy one. We all know Pilates increases core strength which is so important in the body’s ability to move well and stay injury-free. Having a stronger core can also directly impact the power behind movements during your athletic performance. When you have strong core muscles to help you through your movements, you can hit harder and move faster. A stronger core also helps with:

Ease of Movement: Strengthening the body’s core muscles and teaching them to activate in all movements gives our major mover muscles the freedom to do what they were meant to do! This helps our muscles be more efficient and make movements feel easier. Pilates also helps to train the right muscles to do their job so we don’t unnecessarily use energy recruiting other ones. Plus the fluid motions of a Pilates workout encourage more fluid, easy movements when you get off the mat!

Better Balance: It’s not rocket science: if you are falling all over the place, you won’t be able to hit a ball very well. A strong core will help the athlete stay centered and quick on his/her feet. Better balance equals increased stability while performing the strong, full movements required in tennis and other sports. Pilates also helps improve balance by providing a combination of strength and flexibility. Additionally, a well executed Pilates workout will help correct muscular inequities that can through off your balance. Balanced muscles + Balanced strength and flexibility = Better overall balance!

Beyond the core strength and resulting performance enhancements, Pilates can also help athletes:

Improve Use of Breath: The use of breath is an extremely important component of the Pilates workout. Focusing on breath will increase the strength and efficiency of the diaphragm (your main breathing muscles) and can even increase lung capacity and stamina. Also, training your mind and body to use your breath to aid your muscles will help with efficiency and increase power and stamina. When your body is practiced in exhaling as you exert energy can really improve performance with little to no extra effort at all.

Increase Focus and Control: There are plenty of distractions in our lives these days. Taking 30 to 60 minutes on a regular basis to really hone in and focus on a task (like your Pilates exercises) can make a big difference in your ability to focus on your game. Pilates is an exercise method that really encourages complete focus and control, ensuring your mind and body work together to maximize results. Having an increased mind/body awareness will really improve your control during athletic performance.

What do you think? Are you an athlete who has seen benefits from doing Pilates? Comment below, we’d love to hear from you!

 

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