Three Reasons Professional Athletes Turn to Pilates

Pilates meets eight phys­i­cal per­for­mance fac­tors iden­ti­fied as impor­tant to ath­letes by coach­es and ath­let­ic train­ers—pos­ture, bal­ance, mobil­i­ty, flex­i­bil­i­ty, sta­bil­i­ty, coor­di­na­tion, func­tion­al strength and endurance. Any ath­lete will ben­e­fit by includ­ing Pilates in a week­ly train­ing routine

It’s all over the news. Pro ath­letes have dis­cov­ered what oth­ers have known for years—Pilates works. Lead STOTT PILATES Instruc­tor Train­er, Leslie Braver­man, takes a clos­er look three rea­sons why Pilates makes it to the big leagues.

#1 – Core Strength and Joint Stability

Pilates wakes up mus­cles that are locat­ed close to joints. The deep abdom­i­nals, back, pelvic floor, psoas and diaphragm—“the core”— are a col­lec­tion of mus­cles that sup­port the spinal ver­te­brae and sacroil­i­ac joints.  Like the struc­tures of the spine, every joint (shoul­der, hip and knee) has its own net­work of deep mus­cles that are designed to sta­bi­lize it against force and torque. In Pilates, ath­letes learn to use these deep mus­cles and re-estab­lish the con­trol on the inside before adding speed, torque and pow­er from the out­side. A strong out­er body built on a weak inner core is akin to a house built on a cracked foun­da­tion. Both are unsta­ble and like­ly to break down over time.

#2 – Control & Strength Through Entire Range

Ath­letes do what­ev­er it takes to win the game. Ten­nis, soc­cer and ice hock­ey require the abil­i­ty to do quick, explo­sive move­ment in any direc­tion. In an instant, the mus­cles on the back of the leg (ham­strings) may need to stretch to reach for a ball and then con­tract to regain bal­ance to hit it. Pas­sive stretch­ing weak­ens mus­cle tis­sue. Active stretch­ing (eccen­tric con­trol) teach­es the mus­cles to be long and strong in large ranges of motion.

#3 – A Balanced Body

Every sport or ath­let­ic endeav­or cre­ates asym­me­tries in strength and flex­i­bil­i­ty. Base­ball pitch­ers wind-up to throw the ball hun­dreds of times for a game, com­pet­i­tive run­ners repeat­ed­ly use the same rec­i­p­ro­cal motion, and elite swim­mers train miles a day. Ath­letes may push hard for strong per­for­mance num­bers with­out ade­quate recov­ery or bal­ance in their train­ing regimen—a prac­tice that over­tax­es some mus­cle groups, weak­ens oth­ers, and cre­ates dis­pro­por­tion­ate strength and mobil­i­ty around joints and tissue.

Though injuries can hap­pen dur­ing a game or race due to acci­dents and unfore­seen cir­cum­stances, many coach­es and ath­let­ic train­ing experts believe most ath­let­ic injuries can be traced back to fit­ness imbalances.

Anto­nio Brown (pro foot­ball), Hol­lie Avil (triath­lete), Roger Fed­er­er (ten­nis cham­pi­on) and Dara Tor­res (sprint­er) have report­ed Pilates improved their ath­let­ic per­for­mance and reduced injuries. In prepa­ra­tion for the 2012 Sum­mer Olympics, Pilates was a pop­u­lar train­ing choice. In March, the St Louis Car­di­nals announced the addi­tion of Pilates to their week­ly con­di­tion­ing program.


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