Athletes are constantly striving to find the appropriate balance within their bodies so they may continue to progress in their training. Injuries and mental burnout can inhibit the athlete’s ability to consistently train and progress, resulting in a loss of precious time towards improvement. Athletes of all walks of life are turning to Pilates to offset these challenges by balancing strength, flexibility, and mental prowess.
Athletes work their bodies, very often strenuously, through specific planes of motion depending on the sport. The repetitive motions of many sports very often puts the body at risk for muscular imbalances, which could eventually result in injury. Pilates encourages an individual to utilize both the superficial and deep muscle groups, resulting in appropriate balance in strength and flexibility. Overall body awareness and balance can improve with a better sense of where the body is moving in space-an important skill to have for appropriate technique in any sport.
An important component to both training and performance that all too often can be overlooked is the mental component of the sport. A large range of sports take an incredible amount of focus, persistence, patience, and adaptability. An athlete can be in the best shape of his or her life, but if on race day their head is not it, neither will their body be. Pilates improves mental focus by utilizing both the breath and the body as an anchor for the mind. The practitioner becomes more aware of their own thoughts as they improve their ability to be fully present with their body and breath. Pilates teaches the individual to stay calm, focus, and breathe and athletes can certainly take these skills with them into their sport when the going gets tough.
The safest way to take the body into a more intense range of motion is through supported stabilizing strength. Athletes in particular should support any deep stretches with strength, as there may already be vulnerable muscular imbalances resulting from the repetitive nature of their sport.