We’re starting a series of blog posts about how Pilates can benefit people training in or enjoying other sports. For this first blog, one of our Express Studio teachers at Sweaty Betty in Farnham, Jo Evans, writes about how Pilates can help swimmers. Over to Jo…
Correct body alignment and core strength are both critical for swimmers and I have found that many underestimate their importance. Although most swimming training focuses on strengthening the larger, global muscles, the core stabilising muscles can be neglected. This can result in misalignment in the water, meaning the swimmer is less streamlined and therefore fights against the flow of water rather than working with it. Over time, injury and muscle strain is possible as a result, or in a competitive environment, it can add seconds to a personal best time.
Pilates exercises strengthen the core of the body from the innermost muscles outwards, focusing more on the stabilising muscles than that of a standard exercise regime. In addition to these deep core muscles, many Pilates exercises will challenge other muscles such as the gluteals, which in turn assist the development of core strength. A familiarity with Pilates principles combined with a strengthened and stable core, will help with shoulder, pelvic and spinal stabilisation, benefitting a swimmer’s balance and alignment in the water. Regular Pilates can also help reduce the neck strain often seen in swimmers, by helping them to develop an awareness of correct spinal alignment from top to bottom.
The controlled, specific and fluid movements of Pilates really complement the flowing movements in swimming, a sport which tends to involve subtle eccentric (muscle lengthening) and concentric (muscle shortening) movements.
When it comes to the all-important breathing, the lateral thoracic breathing method that we use in Pilates develops a deeper, more efficient and focussed breath. This can help encourage the regular and consistent breathing pattern that swimmers need. Breathing in this way enhances the ‘mind-body control system’, which is important in the steady rhythm and concentration required when swimming.
Jo is an ASA Swim Coach, so whether you’re passionate about swimming or you’re just getting started and would like to book in and attend her Pilates classes at Sweaty Betty, click here.