Sports people can be among those who can benefit the most from Pilates based coaching in fact in Australia, elite sports people from swimmers to rugby players practice Pilates as part of their normal training program.
All sports, if practiced enough can lead to muscle strength imbalance – some muscles are recruited a lot and become stronger, and other muscles that are not required as much become weaker. An example of this is freestyle swimming in which you recruit your shoulder internal rotators and under recruit your shoulder external rotators.
Muscle length imbalance can also occur resulting from holding different postures which can lead to muscles being held in either short or long positions. These muscles then adapt to their new length position and change the way we move. Biking postures are an example of this, in which, your hips are held in flexion, and often lumbar flexion, this can lead to hip flexor shortening. Both muscle strength and length imbalance can lead to injuries but also decreases efficiency of movement.
Have you ever wondered why some athletes seem effortless when performing their sport? Efficiency. If you can use your body in an biomechanically efficient way it puts less strain through your joints and requires less energy to go the distance. Sports physiologists have come to understand this after discovering strengthening a runners muscles by 20% doesn’t lead to running 20% faster! Strength and length come into the picture, but without efficiency or co-ordination of muscle contraction strong muscles alone won’t get your there. Practice of Pilates can identify and treat imbalance and efficiency in sport. The only question is how efficient do you think you can be?
Pilates teaches awareness and contraction of the deep core muscles which help hold the body in it’s most efficient alignment. Deep stability muscles work gently to control movement and posture and to efficiently transfer forces through the body. The emphasis is gentle- teaching the body that it can do more with less through practicing smooth, slow and fluid movements to enable increased recruitment of deep stability muscles and of thus increased efficiency. Pilates also addresses lateral or diaphragmatic breathing techniques to create lung efficiency. Pilates also utilises specific strengthening and lengthening techniques to rebalance the body in each individual athlete, assisting to strengthen weak muscles and length short ones. Pilates can help you be the best you can be.