An Athletes Guide to Pilates
Recently, Pilates has gained popularity in the modern athletic world. Many of the movements actively stretch the body while slowly firing up a group of muscle fibers that contribute to physical endurance & stamina. Along with this deep level of activation, the moves also teach the body to be stable from every angle.
This process helps athletes to activate a very essential chain reaction of a long-lasting, solid muscular “support system.”
During performance, many sports like boxing, football, basketball & sprinting require that the athlete fire up their fast twitch (Type 2) muscle fibers creating, quick and powerful moves. Although they do a necessary & hearty job, these fibers fatigue more quickly than the slow firing, long lasting Type 1’s. Due to their very different functions, the ability for these two types to have a “symbiotic relationship” is imperative for the most effective output. Pilates is proving to be the athlete’s favorite technique to help get that relationship thriving.
If you’re looking to jumpstart the routine at home, a few moves to try are:
Leg circles can be done on the back or side lying. The goal is to get the legs as straight as possible while keeping the belly & back and non-circling leg completely still. The circles should be directed from the hips and the range of motion should be limited to help maintain the stability of the upper half of the body. When you’re on your back doing leg circles, it should work the front & back side of your legs in addition to the abs. When you’re on your side doing leg circles, you’ll feel a burn in your legs all the way up to your booty. We suggest doing at least 4-8 circles in each direction & on both sides for side lying variations.
Swimming should be done by people who have healthy backs with no herniated discs or recent back injuries. You will start on your belly with the legs extended straight behind you and the arms extended straight out in front of you. Hover the arms and legs above the ground and then alternate lifting up opposite arm and leg keeping the opposite side hovering above the ground. Continue to pull the belly muscles away from the mat and activate the upper leg muscles to help support the low back. Make the movements slow for 20 seconds while maintaining control in the rest of the body then go fast with a big range of motion for 20 more seconds.
Leg Pull Front
Start in a plank position. Without letting your body shift, lift one leg up, no higher than your glutes, making sure not to cave in the low back. Keeping the abs pulled in, hinge at your shoulders to shift forward and go onto the tiptoes of the leg that’s on the mat, almost liking your peaking over the edge of a cliff. Make sure not to let the lifted leg drop. Do this 4 times on each side and once you’ve mastered this, try doing the same thing but with the leg lifted to the side rather than straight behind you.