HOW PILATES CAN HELP YOU IN THE WAVES:
Pilates is becoming a popular workout and alternative training regime for surfers worldwide. Pilates is well known for its ability to assist in building flexibility, strength and endurance, aiding in injury prevention, improving pelvic and spinal alignment and helping our breathing.
So how can Pilates improve your performance on the waves?
1. Build strength: Surfing requires immense muscular strength, particularly in the upper body. However, the repetitive movements of swimming and paddling out can create imbalances and weaknesses in other parts of the body. Practicing pilates will allow you to focus on core stability and control, strengthening deeper stabilising muscles, allowing you to engage in the waves with more strength and power.
2. Improve flexibility: As a surfer, dynamic flexibility and ease of movement is truly important to not only surf with some style, but to stay injury free as well! Surfing frequently can result in tight, restricted muscles, in particular tight fascia muscles. This can lead to postural changes and create a cycle of symptoms, pain, and faulty movement patterns. So how can Pilates help this? Pilates includes a range of different muscle stretches which at the same time help to strengthen them too. By following these specifically designed techniques they ultimately help create optimum joint function and increase the amount of nutrient-dense blood that reaches tissue all over the body. This ensures muscle tissue resistance is reduced during exercise; thus assisting with a reduction in damage to muscle tissue. So flexibility goes hand in hand with improving performance, strength, balance and also for a quick recovery time and preventing injury.
3. Improve your balance: Balance is a fundamental skill that is needed for a great surf performance and reformer Pilates is a great controlled resistance form of exercise which is a sure fire way to drastically help this! The slow transitions between controlled movements in Pilates engages and stretches key muscle groups, whilst strengthening your core and thus improving your overall balance and stability. It’s actually been used time and time again as a successful way to improve balance amongst the elderly too, so it can definitely help you on your board!
4. Improve agility: Regular pilates practice can improve spatial awareness, coordination and reflexes. These benefits will no doubt increase your mobility and agility in and out of the surf. The waves are an unpredictable environment which requires the ability to make decisions fast – a balanced foundation of supple muscles and strength is vital for this.
5. Build endurance: The strenuous nature of surfing paired with an environment that provides extra resistance, often leads to fatigue. Pilates can strengthen your ability to focus and improve your concentration. Your pilates practice will teach you to “work smarter, not harder” allowing you to move more efficiently in the water, increasing your endurance and allowing you to stay out in the surf for longer periods of time!
So let’s look at incredible example of how Pilates helped sporting legend and Ironman, Kendrick Louis.
‘Louis incorporates at least three pilates classes into his weekly training schedule. As a result, he said his performance on the ironman circuit had improved tenfold.’
‘In April, Louis won his maiden ironman crown with victory in Perth. He claimed Manly’s first Australian ironman title and also recently won the North Wollongong round, the world ocean man title and helped Australia to victory at the World Surf Lifesaving Championships in Adelaide.’
“It (pilates) is one of those things that you don’t know how good it is until you actually do it,” he said.