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How Pilates Helps Athletes (and Everyone Else)


Professional athletes of all kinds have discovered how adding Pilates to their training can improve performance, reduce injury, speed up recovery and help their hardworking bodies stay healthy. But what about the rest of us? I'm here to tell you Pilates can provide you with the same benefits professional athletes enjoy.

How Pilates Helps Athletes ( and Everyone Else)

Benefits for Everyone

Pilates is a whole-body exercise system that develops strength, functional flexibility, coordination and balance. It's for anyone wanting to develop those traits, and is perfect for returning to activity after an injury or relaxing vacation.

Builds a Good Foundation

Pilates helps people improve their movement patterns by engaging the mind to change the body. Feeling our imbalances and learning how to improve them is a key element of Pilates training in general. It helps us to learn and to identify how our bodies are meant to move.

Improves Core Strength and Lumbo-Pelvic Stability

Pilates instructors will often use lumbar stabilization exercises and concepts in their sessions, with many Pilates exercises incorporating lumbar or lumbo-pelvic stabilization. Greater stability in this area can increase flexibility , generate power for throwing or rotational sports and decrease lower back pain or injury.

A comprehensive Pilates mat or studio equipment program designed to strengthen the trunk in all planes of motion this can improve the dynamic stability in the core. The emphasis Pilates places on the core provides an environment for safely developing a base level of lumbo-pelvic stability. As skill improvements are made, challenges such as standing exercises, lank based exercises, free weights and unstable surfaces can be added to provide a higher level of difficulty.

Balancing the Body: Counteract the Effects of Training

Many recreational or occasional athletes develop muscle imbalances and poor posture from combining a sedentary occupation with their sport. For example, bicycling has become the sport of choice for many middle-aged men and women. Cycling has obvious cardio-respiratory, strength and endurance benefits, but as a repetitive activity it puts strain on the lumbar spine, neck, shoulders, arms and legs. Combining daily work sitting at a desk with hours on a bicycle in deep hip flexion can decrease flexibility in the hip flexors and lower back, leading to stress in these areas. An appropriate Pilates program would emphasize hip, lumbar and thoracic extension to counteract the effects of repetitive stress in a seated position.

The same principle applies to rotational athletes such as tennis players or golfers. The asymmetrical nature of their activities can lead to misalignments and strength imbalances on either side of the body. A custom designed Pilates program could target the neglected side of the body, or work on the opposite movement pattern to cross-train the body and improve symmetry.

Gloria Atkinson
Gloria has been in the fitness industry for over 30 years, she is currently ORC's Group Fitness Director. Her background training and qualifications are extremely diverse, including Post Secondary education at Sheridan College and Florida State University (Athletic Scholarship). She's a OFC Certified; Group Fitness Instructor and a Personal Trainer, Pilates (Mat and Reformer) and Yoga instructor. Gloria's a Certified Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), a ROHP (Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner), and so much more! Glo believes that instead of thinking of dissatisfaction as something bad and pushing the feeling away, we should welcome it. In fact, dissatisfaction is one of the most powerful ways our subconscious nudges us to make a change, our inner being gently telling us to go for more.