Benefits of Pilates exercise for winter sports

The winter Olympics are soon, and the ski season is in full-swing, what better form of exercise do your clients need to prepare themselves than Pilates.

School Of Pilates Posted Feb 05, 2014 Future Fit Training


Benefits of Pilates exercise for winter sports

There’s nothing more exhilarating than the thrill of skiing or snowboarding down a snow-covered mountainside with clear blue skies overhead and fresh clean air in your lungs. So how can you help your clients prepare for a week of fun in the snow? By encouraging them to your Pilates classes and sessions and preparing them for a safe and injury-free holiday.

As any keen skier will tell you, preparation and pre-ski training should focus on;

  • correct core stabilization (recruitment of the transverse abdominus)
  • the importance of pelvic stability with dynamic activities - whether exercising in a gym before your ski holiday or skiing in deep powder
  • mobility and flexibility of key muscles in skiers that tend to get tight, improperly used, or overused due to other muscle imbalances.

By focusing on correct core muscle engagement, Pilates exercises helps a skier to focus on allowing the movement start from the centre of the body and move outwards. The result is a stronger and more adaptable skier with improved body awareness and proprioception. By practicing Pilates, our client develops a strong core, improved balance, and agility. With the additional core strength, the skier can improve his or her edging and transfer a powerful line of energy into the skis. A strong core, coupled with improved alignment, will also reduce impact on a skier’s back, hips, and knees. As a result, our skier becomes energy efficient and reduces wear and tear on his or her joints.

Encourage your client to concentrate on achieving good posture alignment as this will help maintain control whilst skiing. Good skiing alignment follows the same principles as a standing Pilates set up position with the torso being upright and the shoulders soft thereby allowing the jaw and neck to be at ease. Ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders are held in stacked alignment thereby eliminating any pressure on the joints.

Pilates is excellent cross-training for skiers to regain muscle balance and avoid sport specific injuries. Bringing the body back into balance requires stretching the muscles that are dominant in skiing and strengthening the less dominant muscles. Many Pilates exercises do both simultaneously.

Preventing common knee injuries

Skiers run the risk of many different injuries in particular the knees, where anterior cruciate ligament tears (ACL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), and the meniscus. Pilates helps skiers really focus on a dynamic and full range of motion and the strengthening of the hamstrings, which can help balance overused quads as well as serve as back up support for the ACL. Exercises that emphasize the adductors can help a skier’s recovery from catching an edge or keeping the skis under the centre of the body, thus reducing the stress on passive structures such as the MCL.

Preventing lower back injuries

Another area overused a lot in skiing is the lower back. Injuries here often occur from form fatigue and poor core stabilization. Often the hip or lower extremity moves and then the pelvis and lumbar spine follow, increasing the stress on the spine as well as causing unnecessary muscle imbalances, compensations, and ultimately injuries. This increased motion of the trunk requires increased energy as efficiency of movement is lost, speed of fatigue is gained.

Muscles to Stretch: Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Iliotibal Band, Calves, Quadratus Lumborum, Hip Abductors, Hip Flexors, Pectorals, Upper Trapezius, Latissmus Dorsi.

Muscles to Strengthen: Medial Quadriceps, Tibialis Anterior, Abdominals, Hip Adductors, Hip Abductors, Hip Extensors, Rhomboids, Mid-Trapezius, Lower Trapezius.

By using a range of mobility and strength exercises with your clients, you can assist them to safely prepare for the ski season. Due to increased core strength and awareness, even if they clip their skis and fall over – their obliques will assist in a graceful recovery to a standing position to start again!

Happy skiing and snowboarding!

 

    

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