Pilates was originally developed as a supplement to athletic pursuits, and it remains a perfect match today. Regardless of the athletic pastime you enjoy, adopting a regular Pilates practice will optimize your performance in any sport from cycling to CrossFit. When Joseph Pilates designed his early exercises in a prison cell during World War I, he used his experiences as a boxer, gymnast, skier, and diver to create resistance-training modules to keep his fellow inmates healthy during their internment as “enemy aliens.”
After Joseph was freed and took his exercises to the United States, Pilates has grown in popularity across many generations, taking on new forms and variations. However, one main point has always been true: Pilates makes you a better athlete. Today we cover five Pilates exercises for athletes that can help you optimize any sport performance.
The Swimmer – If you’re into CrossFit, you need to build strong muscles in your core and flexibility in your hips to reduce lower back injury. To do “The Swimmer,” lie facedown with your arms stretched overhead. Keep your legs together and straight. Reach far above your head, chin tucked, and eyes looking down. Then, raise your right arm and left leg about six inches off the ground, floating your head and chest off the mat. Hold for then breaths, and switch.
Double-Leg Kick – Athletes who do a lot of lifting need increased flexibility and range of motion in their hamstrings, hips, and lower back. Perform the double-leg kick by lying facedown and bending your knees to reach your heels towards your glutes. Stretch your arms behind your back, fingers laced, elbows bent, and turn your head to the right. On an inhale, kick both heels back quickly towards your butt, two or three times. Then exhale as you stretch out your legs and arms, lifting your head and chest while looking forward. Lower to your starting position with the head turned left and repeat for six to ten breath cycles.
Kneeling Bicycle – Runners and cyclists (or anyone who performs repetitive movements) can benefit from Pilates for the emphasis on core strength and stability. You also want to increase mobility in your spine, hips, and shoulders. One powerful exercise you can practice is the kneeling bicycle. To perform this, kneel on your left knee, with your right leg extended straight out to the side. Lean left and put your left hand on the floor. Next, raise your right leg until your foot is just below hip height and exhale, while swinging the right leg forward. You’ll inhale as you bend your right knee, sweeping this leg back as far as possible. Repeat for five times, and then switch legs.
We’ve only covered a small sample of the many Pilates exercises for athletes that will benefit you in the sport of your choice. At Core Fusion, our extensively trained instructors will help you figure out the best exercises for your individual needs as an athlete. For more info on our Pilates offerings or to set up a consultation, contact us today.