Whether you play – or you train others to play – Pilates is a great way to get that athletic edge during the colder months.
Winter is right around the corner, and with the colder weather comes snowboarders, skiers, hockey players, and skating enthusiasts ready to strut their stuff. How do they build strength, increase energy, and get in shape for their favourite sport?
Pilates-based exercises help improve performance, reduce injury, and relieve stress. It also focuses on re-balancing your muscles around the joints, improving your alignment and flexibility.
“Pilates also assists in rehabilitation after injury and creates balance throughout the entire body,” says Moira Merrithew, co-founder of STOTT PILATES®. “As a result, athletes can withstand rigorous training regimes and ultimately improve their strength and endurance for skiing or hockey, and ultimately prevent or recover from injury while maintaining an optimal weight for their activity of choice.”
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. “Pilates is now being used by professional hockey players, Olympic athletes, and extreme sports fanatics because it helps increase joint stability and strengthens the deep core muscles which in turn prevents injuries and leads to improved athletic performance,” adds Moira.
Pilates and your Regular Workout
What most athletes don't realize, however, is that the most basic Pilates exercises can be easily incorporated into their regular sport-conditioning regimens. For instance, on a lightweight 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 muscle-firing patterns. Another option is to add some Pilates exercises into the warm-up activity.
The warm-up prepares the mind and body to act succinctly to create movement; as well as the heart muscles, skeletal muscles and joint structures to respond to greater stimulus. It lowers blood pressure, and improves blood flow which will increase cardiac output. More specifically, the warm-up is both psychological as well as physiological. The higher the level of athletics or fitness, the more the warm-up should be appropriately adapted to activate the energy systems that are required for that sport.
Pilates helps the neuromuscular system prepare the motor units to fire with speed, force and in the proper sequence for biomechanical efficient movement. Previous warm-up routines included stretching, but the risks and benefits of stretching are mixed and often not collaborative in the research.