How much have you heard about Pilates and how it helps with sports performance and preventing sports injury? In amongst all the weight training, fitness runs and circuits, the core is a key part of the body that needs attention when it comes to sports performance. Pilates helps the core stay stable and strong and also helps other parts of the body remain flexible and injury-free as a result. Keeping your core fit using Pilates is also important because it helps to improve general wellness and protect joints.
Who invented Pilates?
It was invented by a German doctor called Joseph Pilates in the 1920s. He was interested in strengthening the body because he had been unwell as a child. He believed that physical and mental health are closely connected. He was also very interested in exercise around wrestling, gymnastics and boxing.
As a result, he developed a system to work the whole body, concentrating on the core. He invented more than 500 moves and exercises.
Who can do Pilates?
Anyone can do it. You can be any age and any level of fitness, although you should check with a doctor before starting any new form of exercise. It can be used to gently improve flexibility and fitness, for instance in older age or after being unwell. Elite and amateur athletes also use it to improve sports performance and protect their joints. The most effective Pilates exercises are tailored to the person or group doing them.
You don’t need a lot of kit to start off. All you need is some comfortable clothing, a mat and somewhere quiet to do it. You can buy more specialist kit if you wish, once you have got better at doing it. Items include hand-held weights, resistance bands, gym balls and foam rollers to help you stretch out before and after a session. Make sure you learn from a properly qualified instructor. This is because you will learn how to do the moves correctly and reduce the risk of injury.
What does Pilates do for sports performance?
Pilates works the core of the body to improve the following aspects of sports performance:
- Improved posture
- Enhanced muscle tone
- Joint mobility and pain management
- Strengthened flexibility
- Better balance
- Whole body strength and conditioning
- Injury risk reduction
Many professional and amateur athletes, including dancers, use Pilates to keep their bodies in top condition and to increase flexibility to protect the joints and improve sports performance. It can be done on its own or, more usually, as part of a wider fitness and exercise regime. It also works well when done alongside physiotherapy.
How does Pilates help with sports injuries?
Pilates is well-known for helping tone muscles and increase flexibility, especially around the core. However, it can also be very effective as part of a sports injury rehabilitation programme. Some evidence has shown that it can really help with back pain. It is very important to perform Pilates in correct postures.
Pilates looks at the body as a whole to correct imbalances that might be causing pain. It helps with balance too, which is important for sports injury prevention. If you work with an instructor, you can correct any faulty movement patterns you might have developed. This can then help strengthen weaker areas of the body and correct bad posture.
Other areas that Pilates can help with include muscle imbalance. This can often be a cause of sports injuries. Pilates can help you develop evenly sized muscles on both sides of the body. As a result, your muscles will work together much more effectively, which will protect your joints and keep you safer during sport.
You can also work on bad posture. Bad posture is often caused by shortening of the hip flexors and weakening of the glutes and abdominals. This leads to a hunched position, which can impede progress in your sports activities. It can also put pressure on your neck, causing pain there too.
Finally, Pilates can help to stabilise the body. This means that it can support you in restoring normal muscle function and keeping joints in their correct position. This is especially important in the areas around your hips, pelvis and spine. Pilates helps deeper muscles to perform properly too. Without these muscles working well, you can experience lower back pain. As a result, you may not be able to train as you would like to.
How can Pilates help me with my mind?
A lot of sporting success starts in the mind. If you feel confident about how your body will perform, you will be far more likely to trust it and push your limits. Many sports psychologists look at the body and the mind together as a result. Pilates helps your mind to support your recovery from sports injuries and to improve your sports performance. This is because you know that you are working in a highly effective way to correct imbalances and strengthen the core, which increases your confidence and self-esteem.
Doing Pilates can also feel soothing. As a result, your nervous system is relaxed and this leaves you in a good mood at the end of a session. Your mind will also remember the movements you made during Pilates sessions. This can help you correct bad posture and cut out risky habits like hunching over a phone and not sitting up straight elsewhere in your life.