Pilates has become a key part of the training regime of many top sportsmen and women, a few of whom are pictured here. Each sport has its own sequence of repetitive movements which, over time, can result in muscular imbalance. Dominant muscle groups become tight and bulky, whilst those which are used less, weaken and become inefficient. Pilates, with its holistic view of the body, can help athletes redress this muscle imbalance and postural misalignment, to improve performance, technique and minimise the risk of injury.
The golf swing is biased towards one side, which can create imbalance in the body. Pilates encourages a player to swing from their core rather than from their limbs, which helps to balance out the body against the forces of the swing. Strengthening the core, improving flexibility, building stability in the pelvis and shoulder girdle, and bringing both sides of the body into balance, can help golfers hit the ball further, straighter and more accurately.
Repeated impact with the ground associated with running often results in injuries to the back, hips and knees. Pilates can help avoid such problems by improving postural alignment, building long, strong leg muscles, and improving joint mobility.
Choreography demands repetitive and often rapid movements from the dancer, which creates imbalance in the body and puts strain on the joints, particularly the hips, knees and ankles. Pilates has been used by dancers for many years to minimise the occurrence of such problems.
Snowboarding and Skiing
With its emphasis on strengthening the deep abdominal muscles to achieve a strong core, Pilates can help skiers and snowboarders cope with the twisting, side-to-side movements associated with negotiating the slopes.
Football and Rugby
Rapid changes of direction at high speed and powerful movements delivered from unbalanced positions, are key characteristics of both these sports. Pilates can help players improve their flexibility, co-ordination and stability, particularly the stability of the pelvic region. An unstable pelvis can result in hamstring tears, a common problem for both rugby and football players.
The stance and movements associated with batting and bowling place enormous demands on the muscles of the trunk and on the shoulder girdle. Pilates can help cricketers strengthen their back and abdominal muscles, and enhance the mobility of the shoulder girdle, thereby improving posture and balance and avoiding injury.