Health and Fitness 5 Ways Pilates Can Improve Athletic Performance 16 January 2019 Studio Pilates Being an athlete is not for the fainthearted. Discipline and endurance in training are needed to guarantee a good performance. Food and daily exercise have to be conscious decisions, to ensure to ensure the body is not too weak or bloated for a sports event. While many coaches recommend high intensity regimens to generally improve athletic performance, less intense workouts such as yoga and Pilates are equally effective. They improve not only the physical attributes of a person, but also the mental and psychological aspects. Pilates continues to attract a growing number of athlete advocates for its holistic benefits as outlined below: Improves Mindfulness You can be the strongest person in the room, but if you get easily distracted, you are more liekly to lose a game. Pilates is an exercise developed to primarily strengthen the body’s powerhouse, which is the area covering the abdomen, hips, and lower back, using tools such as bands, balls, and reformer machines. However, unlike many other workouts, Pilates enhances the connectedness of the mind and the body. It basically operates on the following principles: focus, breathe, control, stamina, centering, flow, relaxation, precise movements, and posture alignment. The exercises in a typical Pilates session are typically undertaken slowly, giving the person a better chance to focus on the target area and properly execute every movement. Focus is critical in playing any sport and being able to practice focus during daily Pilates sessions will set the pace for any athlete. Yet mindfulness is more than just about being glued to the game. It also implies being sensitive and responsive to the environment – skills which are also being practiced in Pilates. After all, athletes must be proficient in screening out external stimuli that are hazardous or a nuisance (such as scorching heat), while at the same time responding appropriately to those that are relevant. Manages Endurance Thresholds Game injuries are inevitable. No one can tell when a ball will hit the head of a running player or if a bat will slip and injure the leg of another. While many athletes are taught how to endure minor bruises, scrapes, and scratches during a game, Pilates teaches them to learn how to get strong and push personal limits without reaching a point of pain. In every Pilates session, people are given the freedom to make modifications and move at a pace which honours their capabilities at any one point in time. This can be especially true among beginners who are not used to strenuous activities. Knowing when to push and when to stop are key to a sustainable athletic life. Enhances Flexibility Unlike other exercises that are rapidly executed, Pilates savours the moment. Exercises are slowed right down – or held for a few seconds – before proceeding to the next, as a flow is important in Pilates. You will be advised to reach your limit without imposing unnecessary stress on your body. This substantially improves flexibility. No muscle group is left overlooked in Pilates, helping an athlete achieve more natural movement, more relaxed muscles, and smoother transitions. Increases Endurance Some athletes start big and end up flat. People know the relevance of breathing in physical sustenance, yet sometimes they forget about proper breathing when participating in sports events or even during regular workouts. Perhaps this is caused by too much anxiety, tension, or excitement. Pilates, meanwhile, is focused on proper breathing with movement, contributing to athletic endurance. Ensures Good Posture and Balance It’s common to neglect posture when playing or exercising. The tendency is to become too focused on improving muscle tone or he game itself, to the point that your posture is unintentionally compromised. To improve athletic importance, one has to maintain a good posture, which in turn ensures good balance and proper execution of movement. Pilates highlights postural alignment in the performance of exercise sets. It is even recommended for pregnant women and scoliotic patients who obviously have special needs and are not suitable for high-intensity workouts. Whether you are a seasoned or an aspiring athlete, Pilates should form part of your regimen. It equips you physically, of course, but also mentally – and with the right mindset comes a healthy perspective to every game … you keep your movements swift, your mind sharp, and your temper cool. For this reason, more and more sports enthusiasts are embracing Pilates. It’s definitely a must-do in sports training. About the author: Melanie Lim of Capital Physiotherapy. – a professional physiotherapist and member of the Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute.