We all know that swimming is a form of exercise that can build aerobic capacity and help to improve strength and tone muscles without putting any pressure through the joints. However, whether you’re a professional athlete or swim occasionally for recreational pleasure, Pilates can help you get the most from your swimming experience.
So what benefits can Pilates offer swimmers?
Develops a Strong Core
Pilates focuses on strengthening the core which integrates the shoulder girdle, trunk and pelvis. A strong core is essential to give you support when moving all four limbs and will help to increase speed as well as prevent injury. Pilates doesn’t just focus on the superficial muscles of the abdominals but concentrates on developing the deeper abdominal muscles called the transverse abdominus together with the muscles closest to the spine. By learning to switch on these “inner” muscles rather than relying on the outer (global) muscles, swimmers can attain ultimate alignment and balance when swimming.
Improves Body and Movement Awareness
Effective swimmers need to be acutely aware of their body’s position and movement in the water to produce the most efficient swimming pattern possible. The Pilates methodology raises awareness of the body’s movements so you can ensure the correct muscles are being engaged.
Swimmers can sometimes develop poor breathing techniques whereby they unnecessarily hold their breath or don’t fully exhale. One of the key Pilates’ principles teaches a relaxed, efficient diaphragm breathing technique which will help swimmers breathe effectively and increase stamina and endurance.
For swimmers, proper body alignment is critical as swimmers need to work with the water and the slightest misalignment means they work against it. Pilates is a very controlled exercise regime that helps to rebalance muscles and bring your body into the correct alignment.
Pilates restores natural posture through the practice of controlled functional movements thus creating better balance in water.
Improves Joint Flexibility and Motion
Pilates improves flexibility by gently stretching out the body and increases mobility through the joints. This reduces joint restrictions enabling a swimmer to move more efficiently.
A strong core will enable you to leverage your larger muscles to move through water more quickly and efficiently.
When swimmers have a weak core, they tend to overcompensate by putting extra stress on their back and shoulder muscles and this can lead to injuries like muscle strains or rotator cuff tears. Pilates works on balancing these imbalances so you can maximize the power generated from your back, shoulders, and legs without overusing them to a point of injury.
So, if you are looking to improve your swimming performance, why not try Pilates?