Why is Pilates beneficial to athletes?
Athletes listen up. In order to perform your very best for your sport, you have to include well-rounded activities that can balance your imbalances. Today we’re going to discuss how Pilates can help you do your sport better.
Hi, I’m Lesley Logan, the founder of OnlinePilatesClasses.com™. I’ve been teaching Pilates since 2008. And one of my favorite teachers of all time was one of Joseph Pilates’ clients, which makes me a second-generation teacher. And I’m excited to talk to you about how Pilates has actually helped me as an athlete, and also some of my very favorite clients.
Welcome to OnlinePilatesClasses.com™, the most supportive Pilates-loving community across the globe. Enjoy new weekly classes with our amazing teachers. Download the OnlinePilatesClasses.com™ app today.
So, I actually used to be a runner, a very competitive runner. I ran all through high school, I made it to the State Championships. And I took a little pause for college but then got back into running as an adult. And the reason I had no injuries from marathons and half marathons is because of Pilates. I also had the pleasure of teaching NFL players and college football players during my time in Los Angeles, and one of the things that they came to me for was to prevent injuries. And that’s exactly what we did. And they never missed sessions with me because Pilates was really what kept them on the field and kept the pain at bay in their practice.
Strength and Flexibility
Let’s first talk about strength and flexibility and how Pilates can do that for you. So because Pilates is an actual strength-based workout, every single exercise is actually designed to use all of your muscles all at the same time in equal balance, which is quite awesome. In athletic activities, we don’t do it that way. In athletic activities, one part of your body or one plane of your body is working really hard while the other plane of your body is supporting. For example, I’m a runner, right? So when I’m running, there’s a forward, leaning motion to make sure I’m faster. There are some arm pumps going back and forth. But typically, if you look at runners, their shoulders are forward because of that forward lean. And it’s all dominated by the leg, so hip flexors are central, which means they often have weaknesses in the hamstrings, and even the hips on the outer hip muscles, which allows for injuries, right. But when I did Pilates because of the balance of stretch and strength, but we’ll first talk about the strength. Because of that, my outer hip muscles were equally as strong as my quads. And because of the connection to the backside of the body, my hamstrings were also strong. So I could run a marathon and literally get up the next day and go off and do my regular life without actually being sore or having any aches, pains or injuries.
The other thing that’s really important is the core strength. So here’s the thing, no matter what sport you’re in, you have to hold yourself up. It’s really, really important. And you can’t be thinking, “posture, shoulders back, let me go,” it needs to be an innate thing in your body. And because every single exercise in Pilates requires you to move from your core first, then your limbs, you’re actually training your body to do that all the time. So then when you go out in life, and you go out to do your sport, when you go to use your arm, you’re not like, “let me use my shoulder to do that” it actually comes from your core and your core stability muscles are working for you, therefore keeping you upright, making you stronger and have more access to more muscles. Pilates exercises improve core strength for athletes.
How Pilates can improve flexibility for athletes
Now, the flexibility part of Pilates is really, really important because injuries happen when you have an imbalance. Often people who are in athletic activities are very, very strong in certain parts of their body, and also very tight, also can be very weak in other parts of their body that they don’t use as much, and those become tight. And so things tear, things break. Accidents happen when there’s an imbalance of strength and stretch. And so where Pilates is really helpful is that we do an active static stretch, meaning we actually activate the muscles as we pull on them, pausing them to get a really great stretch that does improve flexibility over time. So a static stretch would be you folding over your legs, and just going, “I’m stretching my hamstrings.” But an active stretch works with us activating the hamstrings and then stretching over them. Therefore increasing your flexibility over time, not just in the moment.
Strength and Stretch Together in Pilates
And here’s what’s so great about Pilates we do them at the same time. We use strength and stretch in every single exercise, therefore saving you time, preventing injury, and balancing those imbalances so you have equal strength and stretch for your sport. If you want to deepen your knowledge about what Pilates is and all of its benefits, go to our video on what is Pilates, I promise you is no BS. It’s true, honest information that’s going to help you make sure Pilates is the right thing for you.
Tips for preventing injuries with Pilates
Alright, let’s talk about how Pilates helps you avoid injuries. I’m gonna tell you a quick story about one of my favorite clients. And you might be like, “Lesley, she’s not an athlete,” but I would actually beg to differ – aging is an athletic event. Okay, so one of my clients who’s in her 80s and I would make her do this one twice exercise at the end of every single session. It actually challenged her balance and coordination. And it challenged how she used her posture, her core strength. It was a marching exercise which I have on a free tutorial for you on this channel. She’s doing this marching exercise and she’s like, “I really hate this exercise. Why do you make me do it.” And I’m like, “Well, keep marching.” And so while she marched, I explained to her why it was so important. I said, “Because I’m here to help you fall better.”
Alright, so falling is one of the worst things that can happen to an athlete or human of any kind, because that is where serious injuries happen. Why? Because we often put an arm out to catch ourselves. And when you put that arm out, it actually shocks the body, you put all that pressure on one of these joints and boom, injuries happen that sideline you for a long, long time. You’ve all seen it in different sports out there.
So this client, she was marching and she rolled her eyes on my story of telling her I’m gonna help her fall better. Fast forward to the next day. She was out doing her life. And she was very busy as we all are. She had a phone in one hand and her purse on the other and she was going down the steps and there are those steps that have a little bit of rounded edge. She’s going down the steps and she missed a step. So this is really important. When we miss a step, what typically happens, is we fall down the stairs. Not good if you’re young, definitely not good if you’re in your 80s, and definitely not good if you actually have a sporting activity coming up. Anyways, she didn’t actually fall though. Because I had been having her march at every single session, her body instinctually started to march in the air and help her down the steps. She told me the story and she said, “Let’s make sure we march every single day.”
Pilates helps balance imbalances
So I love making sure people do, not just that exercise, but Pilates in general because the avoidance of injury is one of the key things you need to do so you can continue your sport. You wouldn’t do your sport if you didn’t love it. Maybe you love to run or cycle or jog or ski right? It would be terrible if you missed a whole season because you had an injury. We’ve all seen when professional athletes injure out of the game, it’s like, oh, it’s devastating they’re out for the entire season. So what is really important about doing Pilates is that because it balances your imbalances, remember in point one, we talked about strength and flexibility needed to be equal. But also it really does teach you coordination from your center outward, therefore allowing you to be able to react in quick steps without actually having to stop and think about it. Remember, we do not fall slowly. Right? You don’t get to go, “Oh, I’m falling and like, let me do this, let me do this.” No, you have to do it through your body, and it has to be an instinctual thing. That plus the coordination of how to move your body from your center. And the improvement of your core strength to help your posture means you will have less injury because you will have less opportunities for using your body out of alignment. Therefore keeping you strong and safe to keep doing your sport.
Pilates for injured athletes
One more thing, avoiding injuries, here is the deal. When you already have an injury you’re like okay, so thanks for preventing new ones. But I already have an existing ache or pain, here’s where Pilates is really great – we actually can work on strengthening the imbalance that caused the injury in the first place. And so one of the things that I love to focus on with clients is not dialing in only on that injury, that’s what a PT would do, they would focus specifically on that injury. And Pilates, what we actually do is look at the entire body’s alignment and look at the posture and how you move. And we can see where the imbalances are, therefore, that was causing the injury in the first place or the imbalance that have happened because of the existing injury.
I’m thinking about my trainer who’s walking around a boot right now because she broke her foot. There are already imbalances that are happening in her body once she has surgery. That doesn’t mean she’s out of it, right? So her foot is fixed. But we actually have to rebalance her body to prevent other injuries and also avoid aches and pains on that existing one. So we look at your whole body and we move you from the center outward and look at where the imbalances are, therefore reducing the pain around that existing injury. And oftentimes, you will actually feel improvement, you might even feel fixed. Although we cannot guarantee that, it does happen. Because when you have imbalances, injuries have happened and therefore pain happens. And so we’ll balance those out with strength and stretch, using a variety of modalities of the mat, reformer, Cadillac, Wunda chair, whatever you actually need to get you there.
And then because of all of that your posture improves, it just does. And that is because of all of the exercises that we do, not just one. So you’ll want to actually have a full Pilates experience, not just one or two exercises here and there to add to your program. If you have a current injury right now, I’ve got to work out for you. My wall Pilates workout is a real Pilates workout that has support from the wall and allows you to move your body with what is possible for you right now. So go check it out.
Pilates improves injury recovery
Alright, let’s talk about improving recovery. Because, let’s be honest, if you’re an athlete, the best thing you can do is be able to get up the next day and continue to work on your sport, to work on your practice, to hit that ground running. So I want to actually tell you something. I retired from competitive running, and a week later, I went for a little jog, and I misjudged the crack in the sidewalks’ repair. So it was obviously not repaired. It was really high up and I misjudged the depth of it. And I hyperextend to my knee, which is devastating. And I fractured my tibial plateau. I was sideined on the ground, by myself, and I was able to get myself up and squat-walk myself the rest of the way home, yes, in a squat, walking home to get myself to a doctor’s office and figure out what was wrong with my knee.
So when I found out my knee was fractured, the good news was no surgery was required. The bad news was no weight on that leg for at least eight weeks, maybe 12. And so what was cool about Pilates is I was actually able to still continue my Pilates practice to actually reduce inflammation and improve blood flow, therefore allowing my injury to heal faster. In fact, my doctors checked with me every couple of weeks. And what they couldn’t believe was how quickly my bones were healing and my body was handling the fracture because there was very little swelling at all. And my body was staying strong throughout the recovery. And I explained to them I’m doing Pilates, so wasn’t putting weight on that leg at all. But I was still able to do Mat Pilates, some of the reformer and Tower exercises that I didn’t have actually put weight on that leg. And so, therefore, eight weeks later, is actually put weight back on that leg. And then Pilates is actually how I rehabbed my body and balanced where the imbalances were, that allowed me to hyperextend my knee in the first place. And I have had no issues with my knee ever since that injury, and I got back into running a short time later.
If you want to use Pilates to support your training performance, subscribe to this channel, and then check out all of our free workouts. We’ve got full workouts, no matter where you are in your Pilates practice or your sport.
Pilates improves your mental focus
Alright, Pilates improving your mental focus. Here’s the thing, no matter what sports activity you do, you need to be with your head in the game. In fact, most sports are won and lost. because of the mental focus Do you believe you can do this? Is your body and mind working together? Right. So what’s super cool about Pilates is if you’re working with someone who allows you to be autonomous in your practice, you actually get to have your mind connected to your body, meaning your brain is telling your body what moves where and all you’re focusing on during your Pilates practice is what body parts are moving, where and from where hence your center. Therefore that practice, that stamina, you’re building up with your mental focus, every time you do Pilates improves over time. And it’s something you can apply to your athletic activity.
I’ll talk about my NFL players and my college football players, one of the things that they really loved to do was come in and we would do the Mat workout. And they would move from one exercise to the next. And I would only interrupt them when giving a proper correction to allow them to get even more of the exercise. When they were done with the practice, we would actually look back at some video, they could see where they can improve their practice in Pilates. And then they would go back and do it again. Therefore really cementing their mind-body connection in Pilates. And therefore what happened is when they got to their sport, they were able to trust that their body would do what they needed to do. And they had that extra practice of their mind being in their body so they could show up for their sport without worry or fear of injury, or getting tired or any of those things.
OnlinePilatesClasses.com™ is a great place to improve your athletic sport and get Pilates at the same time. And here’s why. First of all, I’ve been an athlete, as you heard, I’m a runner, also the other teachers on our staff, they have been swimmers and polo players, and several of them work with professional golfers. And one is a professional skier. So we actually have a lot of people there with plenty of different varieties of sports to help you improve your practice and improve your sport.
Our amazing OPC community
At OnlinePilatesClasses.com™ we also have an amazing community where you can actually post a video of you doing an exercise to make sure you’re doing it properly. Therefore, we can give you things to improve upon so that you can be sure that the exercises you’re doing are exactly the right way for your body, therefore impacting your sport in a positive way. The community is amazing, on fire. And we are the only online platform that actually has accountability.
So here’s the thing I know you have a lot going on, and you’ve got an incredible demand for your sport. You need someone saying, hey, hey, it’s time to do your Pilates. And that is what we do. Every single week we drop a new class. You do it as many times as you can you compare yourself to yourself, which allows you to really improve your practice and notice where your imbalances are and what you to focus on. Then you let us know at OPC and we create classes that help answer the questions that you have to go to OnlinePilatesClasses.com/youtube to try us out. Thank you so much for watching today. Make sure you subscribe to this channel and join us on Sundays at 9 am Pacific Time. If you have any questions that I can answer you can drop in the comments below and I’ll answer at the next life.
Have an amazing day!