One of the many benefits of Pilates is its unique ability to improve performance in sport. It subtly yet effectively increases body control without straining muscles. Importantly, this reduces the risk of injury, all while building strength. Athletes participating in swimming in particular can notice exciting and significant improvements in race and recovery times by following a Pilates routine that focuses on ideal body alignment and building core strength.
The shoulder joint is used enormously during swimming, and it is this area of the body that can frequently suffer from wear and tear injuries from continual repetition. The following article discusses the complex use of this joint during the butterfly stroke, and shows how important it is to have a strong trunk to support the shoulders as they propel the body forwards in the water.
This is one of the main ways Pilates aids swimmers is its effective muscle conditioning of the inner support system, including the abdominal muscles and core. This helps to reduce recovery time overall for an athlete. Swimmers most often train the larger, global muscles, which means these smaller, deeper internal muscles can be neglected. By training them, however, the likelihood of neck strains or shoulder injury is reduced, as they support the movement in the extremities. If you are suffering from a neck strain from swimming, Chris explains some simple methods of relieving tension in this video:
Pilates also provides an increased sense of balance for swimmers. It is a highly functional practise, and its exercises carry over to many sports that require careful positioning. Swimmers must be balanced in the water in order to keep their body in ideal alignment for maximum efficiency. Even the smallest misalignment can have a great effect on different strokes, so this is key for success. Pilates also improves joint flexibility by lengthening and increasing range of motion.
The concentration that is applied during Pilates is a further added benefit to time spent in the pool; swimmers can gain a heightened state of focus to help them reach their goals. The practise of breath control also aids athletes, as it builds an awareness of the respiratory system.
Whether you are an elite athlete clocking up hours and hours each week in the pool, or you are a regular swimmer, Pilates can be beneficial for these reasons. By working on the inner stabilizing muscles and taking the time to work on your ability to focus and concentrate, your swim speed and strength can be increased dramatically and your strokes can become far more efficient!
Wondering if Pilates is for you? Get in touch with Chris today to find out more about incorporating it into your training and to book an assessment class.