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The Benefit Of Pilates For Winter Sports

Posted on 16th January 2017 by

Winter is upon us and with that, ski and boarding seasons are in fill swing!

We get lots of enquiries at the clinic about how best to prepare for skiing holidays and how to prevent the worst from happening with injuries.

In today’s blog, we’ll look at why preparing for your ski or snow boarding holiday is important and what Pilates is – if you haven’t come across it before

Ski holidays are a big commitment, both physically and financially. They are also time limited, so most people ski around 6-8 hours a day for 5-7 days in a row. This can be a huge increase in demands on your body if you normally sit in an office all day!

Pilates can help to prepare you for the slopes in many ways:

  • Helps to prepare the body for intense period of exercise
  • Reduces the risk of injuries
  • Improves fitness
  • Addresses muscle imbalances
  • Helps you make the most of your holiday!

Pilates is a low impact form of exercise, usually mat based, that centres around the idea of maintaining a strong ‘core’ during dynamic movement patterns. It works on improving balance, flexibility, muscle strength and posture. It incorporates elements of yoga, martial arts and Western forms of exercise.

So how does having a well trained ‘core’ help me on the slopes? 

There are 4 key elements that will help you during your time on the slopes – Posture, Alignment, Control & Muscle Balance.

I’m sure you’ve seen it before, some people struggle to even stay upright! During this struggle their muscles are so tense and working so hard to keep them upright, thinking about posture goes out of the window!

Posture

A crucial part of winter sports is how you stand on your skis or board.

Incorrect posture will force your body to work much harder than it needs to, which is really inefficient. So, you’ll find that some of your muscles will tire much more quickly and your body will generally fatigue.

When you’re on your skis or board, your posture needs to be stable, yet easily adaptable to the dynamic nature of snow sports.

Pilates helps posture by educating the right postural muscles for you. It teaches postural muscles to work effectively and efficiently.

Alignment

This follows on from posture. Alignment is the relationship in your body between key areas like your head, shoulders, pelvis, hips, knees & ankles. So, if you were drawing a line between these key points like a dot to dot – there will be good and not so good patterns of alignment.

Learning to align your body in its optimal position, will reduce the strain on joints and muscles. Correct alignment will improve your control and balance.

We take it for granted, thinking our body will naturally do this, but a lifetime of postural stresses, injuries, sitting at desks, driving etc. will effect our optimal alignment. We may have tight weak muscles or even some that don’t ‘switch on’ when they’re needed.

Pilates really works to optimise your alignment, teaching all those bits of your body to work efficiently in relationship to each other. Being conscious of your alignment will carry over to your time on the slopes and you will reap the benefits in efficiency, endurance and preventing injury.

Control

Being able to control your body effectively allows you to make small changes without over or under compensating. This skill is vital in skiing and boarding. Reduced control results in working harder than you need to, overstraining the body.

All the moves and exercises in Pilates will challenge and educate body control. Practising control off the slopes will help it become second nature when you’re on the slopes! Let’s face it, when you’re hurtling down a slippery mountain with an equally slippery piece of equipment attached to your feet, a bit of control is a nice thing to have!

Muscle Balance

Muscle imbalances are common throughout the body and don’t always result in a problem. But if your body is being put under greater prolonged physical stress (like a week skiing!), imbalances can become problematic. Weak muscles can be forced to use increased tone or tension to help support them, which increases their work load. Other muscles can work overtime to try and compensate. As skiing/boarding is a whole body exercise, it’s important to address any imbalances you may have.

Pilates is a great form of exercise to do this, that really works the whole body. When practising Pilates exercises you can quickly find out which areas are weak or tight!! It will really teach those ares to work and address any compensations your body is making.

So, how exactly can Pilates can help prevent injuries and keep me safe during my trip!

All of the points above are vital injury prevention tips – correct posture and alignment, better control and well balanced muscles will all reduce the risk of injury.

Any area of the body can be injured when skiing, as it’s a whole body sport. This includes joints, bones, ligaments, muscles and tendons. An injury can vary from a minor muscle strain to a major bone/joint injury such as fracture or dislocation.

Pilates specifically can help you:

  • Maintain control
  • Improve balance – reducing the risk of falling
  • Distribute the load evenly throughout your body – reducing the risk of overworked muscles
  • Increase your flexibility – helping you maintain the correct posture and stance
  • Improve your dynamic movement control – allowing you to adapt to your terrain

Pilates will give you the skills needed to have a safe and enjoyable time away – plus it’s a great form of exercise all year round! The benefits are transferrable to everyday life and exercise too, not just extreme winter sports.

If you’re interested in experiencing for yourself how Pilates can benefit you, come and join one of our classes. We run an extensive timetable of classes, including daytime, evening and Saturday mornings – with a range of levels to suit all.

The goPhysio Team also have some top tips to help reduce the risk of injury on the slopes

Fiona – Listen to your body! Don’t keep going if you feel like you need a break.

Kim – Get any pre-exisiting injuries treated BEFORE you go – don’t leave it until the last minute! You really wouldn’t believe the number of people we see at the clinic a few days before they’re due to go skiing, who’ve had an injury for ages and call us in desperation (normally looking for a knee brace to solve their problem!). Think ahead!!

Paul – Pace yourself throughout the day and have regular breaks to top up energy levels with a hot chocolate!

Sarah – Just in case……make sure you have some insurance to cover any injuries or illnesses while you’re away.

We hope you have a safe & happy holiday!

p.s. Obviously, some injuries are totally unavoidable. So if you do find yourself heading home not quite in one piece, we’re here to help you recover too. You can book an appointment online or give us a call. We aim to offer you an appointment within 24 hours, if not the same day so you can get sorted without delay. All our team are keen skiers or boarders, so know exactly what you’re talking about.


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