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Mindful Movement and Summer Sports

Warm weather is practically synonymous with outdoor exercise! For the most part, fitness fanatics are gearing up to pound the pavement running, hit the links or team up in the park for some group sports and activities. Whatever your outdoor fitness adventure of choice is, Pilates and other forms of mind-body exercise have their purpose when it comes to supporting sports conditioning and enhancing performance.

Fore! Pair Pilates with Golf

What do Pilates and golf have in common? Both require balance, rotation, core stability and flexibility while demanding a balance of mental and physical capabilities to perform optimally. To reduce strokes on the greens, developing core strength is critical: this allows players to efficiently set the ball correctly and once positioning has been perfected, follow through with a solid swing. As Pilates places emphasis on initiating movement from the core through the periphery, power comes from the bottom up, meaning faster club head speeds.

Golfers who practice Pilates also enjoy the benefits of increased hip stability, strengthened deep abdominals and strengthened upper mid-back.

To improve your personal or your clients’ golf game, try these Pilates-based moves:

Mat-Based: Kneeling Hip Flexion with Spinal Rotation (Deceleration)

Kneeling Hip Flexion with Spinal Rotation

Props: Two Stability Cushions

Starting Position: Kneel with one Stability Cushion under each knee. Position legs hip-distance apart, hinged forward with hips flexed, toes curled under resting on floor, pelvis and spine neutral with eyes focused on the floor, arms folded and holding each arm in front of chest.

Exercise: Inhale: rotate spine and upper body to one side. Exhale: return to center quickly concentrating on deceleration.

Repeat five times on each side, alternating.

Target Muscles: Internal/External obliques, Pectorals Major, Deltoids, Gluteus Maximus, Quadratus Femoris

Essences: Pelvic stability, spinal mobility, scapula stability, shoulder mobility

Golfers need to have a good stability of the pelvis with mobility of the spine. Through Pilates you will gain a great awareness for the proper alignment to achieve the best swing.

Reformer-Based: Side Twist Sitting, ½ - 1 Spring

Side Twist Sitting, ½ - 1 Spring

Starting Position: Begin in a seated position facing the side with legs crossed, pelvis and spine neutral, hands in straps and arms reaching forward.

Exercise: Inhale: prepare. Exhale: rotate upper torso toward Footbar. Inhale: return.

Repeat five times on each side, alternating.

Target Muscles: Internal/external Obliques, Deltoids

Essences: Pelvic stability, torso stability, scapula stability, torso strength

Similarly to the kneeling hip flexion with spinal rotation, this exercise proves the pelvic stability as well as mobility of the spine. Spring tension requires engagement of the core muscles and shoulder stability which is important for golfers.

Pilates: The Perfect Running Partner

While running provides excellent cardiovascular benefits, the sport also has the potential to create imbalances within the body. Pilates proves itself an ideal complement to this activity in an effort to strengthen the muscles and ensure that runners don’t end up sidelined. A regular Pilates practice will work the hip flexors, quads, glutes and hamstrings, all major muscle groups that are activated while propelling the legs forward while running.

As a runner, if you experience knee pain, balance instability, low back pain or tightness in the hips, Pilates can be a beneficial, gentle exercise to help correct these issues, reduce risk of further injury and help you achieve a personal best with your runs.

To support your running activities, give these Pilates-based moves a try:

Mat-Based: Lunge Back Ball Pass on the Inside

Lunge Back Ball Pass on the Inside

Prop: Medicine Ball

Starting Position: Stand with feet hip-distance apart, holding the sides of ball in front of chest.

Exercise: Step one foot back and lower back knee toward floor while passing the ball from the inside hand to outside hand under the front thigh. Return to standing and repeat on other side.

Repeat five times on each side, alternating.

Target Muscles: Quadratus femoris, Gluteus maximus, Gluteus medius

Essences: Lower body stability/strength, pelvic stability/strength, torso stability, knee tracking, arm strength

It is important to have the stability and strength of lower limbs to maintain the proper form of running and to avoid any injury. 

Reformer-Based: Single Thigh Stretch, 2 Springs on One Side

Single Thigh Stretch, 2 Springs on One Side

Starting Position: Position legs hip distance-apart, with the ball of one foot on the Footbar and the other foot against shoulder rest with knee on the carriage. Extend the hips and place hands on the Footbar.

Exercise: Inhale: prepare. Exhale: press carriage back. Inhale: return.

Repeat five times on each side.

Target Muscles: gluteus maximus, quadratus femoris

Essences: Lengthening hip flexors (quadratus femoris, iliopsoas, tensor fasciae latae) hamstrings, Gluteus maximus

Runners tend to have tightness especially around the hip joint and this exercise helps to maintain flexibility.