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   Regardless of the demands of your sport, pilates can probably help you  Health Watch : Suzanne Becker    Developing an athlete’s core, which...

   Regardless of the demands of your sport, pilates can probably help you 

Health Watch : Suzanne Becker

   Developing an athlete’s core, which consists of the deep abdominal muscles along with the muscles closest to the spine, makes an athlete more agile, helps prevent injury by stabilizing the torso, and increases sports performance. Pilates is the most effective method of exercise to build a uniformly developed core, while addressing muscle imbalances, and increasing strength and flexibility.  

   Think of your deep abdominal muscles as the foundation of any body movement; hence it is extremely important to build this often forgotten muscle group in young developing athletes.

   If you play a predominantly one-sided sport such as tennis, golf, or baseball you probably have developed muscle imbalances due to the nature of your sport. Since such a key part of Pilates is focused on postural alignment and symmetry, these imbalances will become more obvious to you as you begin to exercise. Specifically releasing the overworked tight muscles and strengthening the weaker ones, will balance the body and help prevent injuries that might otherwise occur when stress is placed on a weak structure. 

   Other sports are more linear in nature such as running and cycling. It is easy for runners and cyclists to develop imbalances in their musculature due to the nature of their sport, which is always moving forward with little to no side-to-side motion. Adding Pilates to their repertoire can help runners and cyclists restore flexibility of the lower and upper body and strengthen the sides of the hips and core to help the knees be more stable. 

   Multi-directional sports require the athlete be stable in multiple planes of motion, as well as be prepared for physical contact with other athletes. The traditional strength training regimen for these sports develops the outside large muscle groups, which produce large movements, but not powerful movements. When all layers of muscles around a joint are strong, these large movements are more powerful and accurate. Quick changes of direction become faster and more agile with a strong core.

   Lastly, athletes requiring excessive flexibility for their sport, such as dancers, gymnasts, and figure skaters, tend to over-develop the outer layer of abdominal musculature and under-develop the deep stabilizing abdominals. Spine injury is particularly prevalent in these sports due to these imbalances.

   Athletes competing in all sports can benefit from the attention to detail and concentration that Pilates demands. 

   Check out this article in the digital edition of SportStars Magazine… The Power of Pilates By Suzanne Becker 

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