The winter Olympics are a myriad of acrobatics. It is truly amazing what these athletes can do in the air and at high speeds. We can attribute much of what they can do to their training on the snow, however; it is how they train off the snow that can make the difference between a gold medal and a career ending injury.
Most professional athletes these days include cross training components in their training and many swear by pilates.
The question is: Do these alternative methods of training work and what can they do for me?
It is so easy to get stuck in a routine; I have trained people who have been doing the same exercises for 10 years using the same weight and others who swear by doing only cardio. However, just like anything in life our bodies need balance and moderation when exercising. By doing too much or one thing (like cardio or exercises for the same muscle groups), we can develop muscle imbalances, which can lead to pain, poor posture and alignment and injuries.
Even our day to day activities can lead to these muscle imbalances: sitting in front of a computer screen at work, driving, and even recreational sports like tennis, golf or racquetball. All of these activities put our bodies in a very forward position, meaning that our shoulders slouch down, our neck rolls forward, our spine rounds and we stop using our core muscles.
The result? Tight chest muscles, tight hamstrings and weak/tight hip flexors, weak back muscles, and a weak core. Translation: Low back pain, chronic headaches, poor posture, and increased risk of injury to the knees and shoulders.
By incorporating pilates and or yoga into your exercise routine, you will help to undue some of the damage you have done to your body over the years and learn some techniques to increase awareness and improve posture and core strength. Not to mention perform better in your sport of choice!
Here are just some benefits of practicing pilates/yoga conditioning found in various studies:
1. Strength and stabilization:
Pilates training focuses on strengthening the bodies stabilizing muscles within the core (scapulae, torso and pelvis). Doing so has been proven to reduce stress to the joints and reduce the risk of potential injuries due to muscle imbalances. View 3 pilates based core exercises you can try today HERE.
2. Improve flexibility and range of motion:
By lengthening tight muscles and fascia, you will be able to run faster, throw farther, and hit better without the pain and with reduced risk of injury.
3. Improve balance:
Whether you are an ice skater or find yourself skating across a patch of ice trying not to fall, balance is crucial to any athlete’s performance.
4. More power and better performance:
Studies have shown that all the abdominal muscles are used during almost all body movement. Meaning that when you do a bicep curl or hit a forehand, you are using your core. The stronger those muscles are and the more you are aware of recruiting them, the stronger and more powerful you will be during the activity.
*Yes, men can do pilates too. In fact, many famous professional athletes including LeBron James, Jake Arrieta the Green Bay Packers, and many more from a variety of sports. So give it a try!
Don’t know where to start?
Check out our Pi-Yo for athletes program. It includes 4 unique full pilates/yoga fusion workouts that will target common weak spots and when completed regularly will help you to become a more well-balanced and injury proof athlete!
Learn more HERE.