Sportsmen and women
Pilates improves flexibility and strength, enhances posture, balance and co-ordination and develops core strength.
Pilates exercises are a great compliment to many sports such as tennis, golf, rowing and cricket. Many top sportsmen are now making Pilates an integral part of their fitness programme to enhance their performance, improve their technique and keep their bodies strong, supple and injury free. The attention to detail on muscle recruitment can be of enormous help to tennis and golf players.
Pilates is especially effective in building core stability, improving focus and injury prevention. All sports have their own key patterns of movement and repeated use of these movement patterns can result in muscular imbalance. Less relevant muscle groups can become weak and inefficient, with the more predominant muscles becoming bulky and tight. Pilates focuses on the body as a whole, aiming to rebalance muscles and improve postural alignment.
Snowboarding and Skiing
Pilates challenges the deep abdominal ‘core’ muscles that help to maintain the dynamic, balanced posture that is essential for safe and efficient skiing or snowboarding. A strong core helps to counteract the twists and turns of the slope, and gives you the ability to negotiate the slopes with great balance and poise.
Football and Rugby
A growing number of top footballers and rugby players do Pilates as a way of improving co-ordination, mobility, flexibility and technique, as well as for prevention and recovery from injuries. The All Blacks and the Welsh Rugby Union is among the high-profile advocates of Pilates (see Pilates & Men).
Football and rugby both demand rapid directional changes, often at near-maximum pace, and an inflexible physique hamper the movement required to do this. The players are also required to deliver controlled power from unbalanced body positions for tackles and scrums – all Pilates movements are initiated from a strong core to provide stability, and targeting these requirements can aid injury prevention and enhance performance by developing stamina, co-ordination and strength. Hamstring tears are common in both sports - focusing on the stabiliser muscles of the pelvis (the buttocks and groin muscles), will help prevent them.
Football managers have long preached the crucial importance of stretching, suppleness and flexibility - the very things that Pilates does best.
Both Mike Atherton and Graham Thorpe use Pilates as a way to overcome previous injuries and to prevent future ones. Pilates provides key benefits for both batsmen and bowlers, which is why many top cricketers use it in their training. Mike Atherton, the former England captain, swore by Pilates as a way both to recover from injuries and to prevent future ones. Graham Thorpe, another England batsman, abandoned his cricket equipment and used Pilates to overcome serious back problems he'd acquired from playing the sport.
Pilates improves flexibility and strength, enhances posture, balance and co-ordination and develops core strength. Incorporating Pilates into your training programme is the perfect way for cricket players to improve their posture which in turn will improve the way they handle their cricket equipment.
The head physiologist and biomechanist for the England Cricket Board recently told the press that aspects of Pilates is used in their training all the time as it focused on strengthening their back and abdominals and it also helped them to recover from injury quicker.
Tiger Woods, Annika Sorrenstam and Rocco Mediate have all incorporated Pilates into their training regimen and the results are clear!
The golf swing is a little one-sided, which can create imbalance in the body. Pilates helps you to swing from your core, not from your limbs, and to balance out the body against the forces of the swing. If you strengthen the core, increase your flexibility, build stability in the pelvis and shoulder girdles and balance both sides of the body, it will allow you to hit it farther, straighter and more accurately.
Runners advocate Pilates because it builds long, strong muscles, improves flexibility and lessens the risk of injury. Runners often suffer from back, knee and hip problems from the constant impact involved in running. Pilates concentrates on posture and alignment – it opens up the hips, the vertebrae in the lower back and focuses on joint mobility.
Darcey Bussell is a Pilates devotee, and Pilates has been used by dancers for many years. They incorporate the Pilates techniques into their training regime, paying particular attention to re-balancing symmetry in the body upset by repetitive movement patterns and overuse injuries. The body becomes evenly balanced and conditioned, and so is less prone to injury.
Matwork classes start from £8.25 per class.
One on one sessions start from £50