Pilates & Your Activity

Examples Of How Pilates Can Complement Your Activity

“Sports are wonderful for the constitution generally,” Joseph Pilates states in Cutting a Fine Figure, Reader’s Digest, October 1934, “but they are of little value for correcting what’s wrong with you – and there’s something wrong with almost everyone. ‘Corrective Exercise’ is the only way to build a beautiful, strong, youthful body.”

Pilates & Biking

Whether for a high intensity workout requiring focus or a casual recreational ride, cyclists benefit from Pilates. Why?

Cyclist stay hunched over their handlebars, sometimes for hours at a time with their spine in flexion. Many do not use the right form, scrunching their shoulders up by their ears. This leads very often to back, shoulder and neck issues. Although cyclists shift their upper bodies from side to side for momentum, their lower bodies only move from front to back. With little lateral movement going on, those muscles become neglected.

Many injuries are also caused by ill-fitting equipment, such as a hand-me-down bike that’s the wrong size. They can throw off your body alignment, resulting in IT (iliotibial) band or knee problems (so it’s important to get a bike fitted properly).

Pilates training with cyclists to open up their chest and shoulders, as well as encourage flexibility and strength in the back. Exercises outside the sagittal (forward) plane are also important for balancing out the body. It’s also key to have a strong upper body for support. To stay in that flexed position, arms should help hold you up so you’re not just depending on your back. Specific arm work is also necessary.

Let your fellow riders see you at that next race and compliment you on your stable pelvis, because with strengthening through Pilates method, you won’t be rocking back and forth wasting valuable energy and setting the stage for hip or leg injuries.

You will learn how to keep your upper traps engaged and slide your shoulder blades down to lengthen your neck and back, avoiding pain.

Efficiency on a bike is key. The more power a cyclist can produce using the minimal amount of effort, the faster you can travel for longer.

As for form, the longer you are able to maintain good form, the more efficient your energy use on the bike will be. Pilates will strength your deep postural muscles to help stabilize you on the bike, improve your handling and balance as well as working on your flexibility and posture. Elite cyclists such as Bradley Wiggins incorporate Pilates in their training to keep their muscles and spine flexible, improve strength and general body awareness thus avoiding injury and improving overall performance.

What  Cyclers have to say about Pilates:

Pilates & Running

Whether you are pounding the pavement, trail or treadmill, Pilates can take your running to the next level.

Pilates provides core strength and hip stability to help you go faster and prevent common injuries.

You may think that running only focuses on the lower body, however, maintaining proper form requires total body strength and flexibility. Do you find yourself slouching during your run? This can happen when you get tired, resulting in restricted breathing. You may then compromise your lower body alignment which can result in lower back pain.

The pounding and jarring effect of running can take a lot out of your body and chance injury – a result of a weak powerhouse and lack of flexibility. Ever had IT, shin, feet, knee or lower back pain?

So along with protections for your entire body, Pilates also helps you pick up your pace. You run far more effectively and thus faster. Keeping an upright posture, you are able to work at your stride and breathe better, helping reduce fatigue.

For the best results in competitive running practice try doing Pilates 2-3 times a week and running 3-4 times a week on non-consecutive days.

Are you training for a marathon or just wanting to increase your distance/ performance? Pilates can help runners suffering from back, knee and hip problems. Incorporating Pilates into your training programme will strengthen your muscles, improve flexibility and joint mobility. Pilates for runners will concentrate on the functional movement of running and exercises will be performed in a variety of functional positions.

Photo credit to Megan Bishop-Keyser

Pilates & Riding

With combining your love for riding and Pilates you can increase your overall body awareness both on and off your mount as well as improve flexibility, balance, and strength in order to facilitate an optimal riding experience. Pilates can sculpt a stronger body with increased flexibility, strength, and balance creating a deeper seat and enhanced suppleness of your lower back, not to mention the strengthened abdominals!

When I recently sat down to think about all that Pilates can help the rider with, the list just kept getting longer …… and longer…..

  • Your riding position and posture
  • Your horse’s way of going
  • Your alignment, and ultimately your horse’s too
  • Your core stability and balance (less falls)
  • Your flexibility (better sitting trot)
  • The independence of your seat (no more hanging on the reins)
  • The fine-tuning of your aids
  • Your feel for your horse
  • Your breathing to help your riding and aids
  • Your focus and concentration
  • Your ability to relax when in stressful situations
  • Your stamina and co-ordination
  • The health and strength of your back
  • How you use your body to reduce wear and tear and injuries

By practicing Pilates you will no doubt improve all of these things to some degree. As your Pilates teacher, I am driven to help you to achieve your goals and improve the harmony between you and your horse, whether you are just a happy hacker or serious competitor. I believe you can really take your riding to a whole new level using this method; many riders are amazed at the difference it really can make. I look to encourage this modality at the studio more in the coming year.

If we only try to improve our imbalances whilst actually riding, we will find we are just repeating old habits. We can achieve much better results and make real changes while off the horse, and then we will have better balance, co-ordination and ability to synchronize with our horse’s movement.

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What  Equestrians have to say about Pilates:

Pilates & Skiing

Even our favorite Winter sports such as XC Skiing can encourage lopsided and uneven muscle development, and that is why Pilates can be such an effective cross training method.

Pilates works on developing your body awareness so that you are always working out in optimal postural alignment. Standing in good alignment is challenging, but maintaining good alignment while you move is even more difficult. However, no matter what kind of athlete you are, you can simultaneously increase your power and minimize your risk of injury with Pilates training.

Cross-country skiing gives you a full body workout but if your muscles aren’t prepared for the challenge you risk straining them or even long-term injury. With the ski season fast-approaching, now is a good time to start thinking about building up your body’s strength and conditioning. This is where Pilates can really help.

Not only does Pilates help you to build those all-important leg and arm muscles, crucial to cross-country skiing, but it also helps you to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, improving your balance, agility and breathing. Practising Pilates increases your self-awareness, making you more mindful of how your body works so that you can get the best out of it, both physically and mentally.

What  Skiers have to say about Pilates: