With the rise in popularity of mind-body exercise over the past few years, it’s no wonder everyone from professional athletes to weekend warriors are making Pilates a regular part of their workouts. According to experts, the colder weather brings increased stress on the joints and tighter muscles, therefore training methods for prevention of injury have become commonplace in gyms across the country.
Pilates is a form of overall strength and conditioning used in the development of strong core muscles which also focuses on breathing, balance, and range of motion. Unlike other hardcore strength training regimens that focus more specifically on muscle mass, Pilates focuses on re-balancing your muscles around the joints, improving your alignment and flexibility.
Core strengthening is an integral component of any injury prevention, rehabilitation, or sports performance program. A strong core provides a dynamic link between the upper and lower body, alleviating excess stress on the peripheral joints. In athletes, core strength contributes to enhanced athletic performance by providing a solid foundation from which the upper and lower extremities can generate force for running, throwing, rowing, or jumping. STOTT PILATES® exercise improves core strength and balances the muscles around the joints, improving the way your body functions, looks, and feels. The Five Basic Principles, in which this method is based, focus on breathing, pelvic placement, rib cage placement, scapular movement, and head and cervical spine placement.
“The focus on core conditioning is paramount for optimal results and performance,” explains Moira Merrithew, Executive Director of Education for STOTT PILATES®. “Pilates is used to increase joint stability and strengthen the deep core muscles which helps prevent injuries and leads to improved athletic performance.” “It [Pilates] also assists in rehabilitation after injury and creates balance throughout the entire body. As a result, athletes can withstand rigorous training regimes and ultimately improve their strength and endurance for skiing or hockey, and prevent or recover from injury while maintaining an optimal weight for their activity of choice.”
What most athletes don’t realize, however, is that most Pilates exercises can be easily incorporated into regular sport-conditioning regimens. For instance, on a light weight day, a recovery workout day, or prior to skill acquisition days, a Pilates workout is a great way to work on neuromuscular coordination and proper musclefiring patterns. Another option is to add some Pilates exercises to your warm-up ritual.
“Although core training may be a bit of a catch phrase in the fitness industry, the true definition of the term is widely acknowledged in medical and rehabilitation communities as the basis for reconditioning the support musculature of the body.” explains Mr. Lindsay G. Merrithew, President and CEO, STOTT PILATES®. “The attention to the core, proper alignment, and good posture that Pilates offers through its numerous variations of movement, with or without specialized equipment, is a natural carryover for the athlete into regular living.”