More and more we hear that high-profile athletes have taken up Pilates- so what is it about Pilates that gives them an edge?

Most traditional training methods used by athletes train the superficial muscles of the body. Generally- due the nature of their sport- athletes will train specific movement patterns, like swinging a golf club, throwing a ball, running flat out or balancing on their hands, for example.

While specificity in sports training is essential, training this way can result in distorted strength and mobility within the body. This leads to pain, increased risk of injury and overall decline in performance.

Pilates training amends the imbalances that may have occurred from sport-specific training. Athletes are taught to feel equality in their movement, focus on core muscle activation and control. Concentration, core activation, and control are main principles that contribute to improving sports performance.

Pilates teaches athletes to ‘feel’ movement, focusing on when to lengthen, to contract or to relax. This type of concentrated movement develops proprioception (awareness of movement), and consequently will improve awareness of sport-specific movement patterns and contribute to better technique.

Core muscle activation is fundamental to improved performance. Core muscles stabilise the spine and compress the internal organs, making movement safer and more efficient.

Correctly engaging the core muscles and concentrating on the ‘feeling’ of a movement leads to greater control, this in turn increases the confidence of the athlete and their belief that they can outperform their opponents.

Furthermore, Pilates is used to assist and speed up recovery after sport specific training. The dynamic lengthening movements combined with the diaphragmatic breathing associated with Pilates decompress the joints including the spine and boost circulation.

Athletes from all sports including marathon, acrobatic sports and swimmers just to name a few are signing up for Pilates classes, but you don’t have to be a professional athlete to enjoy the benefits of Pilates classes, armchair athletes are just as welcome!