More and more athletes are reaping the benefits of mind-body exercise - and as a result, their game and their physique are topping the scoreboard.
With the warmer weather upon us, guys are looking for alternative ways to build strength, increase energy and get in shape for their favourite summer sport. Pilates is a great way to incorporate invigorating and challenging new moves into strength training and sports conditioning regimens.
BENEFITS FOR ATHELETES
Pilates helps athletes develop core strength, increase flexibility, 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 golf drive or baseball pitch, prevent or recover from injury, and maintain an optimal weight for their activity of choice.
“Pilates works on developing kinesthetic awareness of the body, or where it is in relationship to itself, and the world around it. It also focuses on good postural alignment which will help an individual perform a movement efficiently, thus reducing the amount of unnecessary strain on the muscles and joints,” explains Moira Merrithew, Executive Director of Education for STOTT PILATES®. “Specific strengthening exercises will also help to balance the muscles around a joint and balance pairs ofmuscles from one side of the body to the other.”
NOT JUST FOR WOMEN
Women have gravitated toward Pilates in the past, citing the desire to develop the long, lean physiques of dancers. It is only recently that men have realized the potential for Pilates training, although they still have to get past the stigma of it being “women’s exercise”. Men tend to strengthen the body from the outside rather than from the inside as Pilates does.
Generally, men have limited flexibility, weak pelvic floor musculature and a lack of postural muscles – all areas that can be targeted by Pilates practice. The endorsement of Pilates from a wide variety of male professional athletes may be spearheading the trend in male participants. These spokespeople include golfers Tiger Woods, David Duval and Steve Ballesteros; basketball star Jason Kidd; pitcher Curt Schilling; pro hockey player Carlo Colaiacovo and offensive lineman Ruben Brown, among others. These guys are helping fuel this mind-body method of exercise amongst the masses.