How Principles of Pilates Influences Sport

Written for The Health ‘n Hockey Community By Kathleen Maier

Pilates principlesFirst let’s look at the original work developed by Joseph Hubertus Pilates. He was born on December 9, 1883 in Mönchengladbach (near Düsseldorf), Germany. His father, a native of Greece, a prize-winning gymnast, while his German-born mother was a naturopath who believed the body could heal itself. His parents greatly influenced how he developed his original method “Contrology”.

He became aware that our lifestyles, bad posture, ineffective training methods as well as inefficient breathing were the roots of poor health. Joseph Pilates started to search and find the answers to solving these problems by designing a unique series of vigorous movement patterns. These would correct muscular imbalances, improve posture, coordination, balance, strength, agility, concentration, flexibility and overall function of the body. The movement patterns were designed to integrate the whole body using the connection of the mind and body. He then took the method and soon developed spring loaded machines and props to help with the process.

While not defined by Joseph Pilates, principles were introduced later in the Pilates Method. While there is controversy based on how many Principles the Method should include based on materials gathered from his original work. I have chosen to included 6 to help better understand how Pilates can influence sports in a positive way.

  • Breathing. Controlling the process of breathing is extremely important to understanding Pilates and obtaining the full benefits from the movement patterns. Breath is considered the Fuel to provide Quality of Life. It is the first thing to focus on, and should be maintained throughout movements. Breathing with focus and control will help you maintain proper alignment, allow you to contract the muscles required while releasing those not needed.
  • Concentration. This involves the integration between the mind and the body. Paying attention to what and how you are doing is critical for correct movement patterns. Concentration allows the mind to control and be present while moving the body effectively and efficiently.
  • Control. Each movement in Pilates focuses on refining the execution of movements. Keeping the movement within your capabilities is important for maintaining alignment and stability thus resulting in less waste of energy and avoiding excessive muscle tension and strain. Always focus on stability before mobility. This will allow you to get to enhance a higher level of performance from your body.
  • Centering. Everything in Pilates is initiated from the center of the body, called the powerhouse. To perform movements correctly start from the center. Building a strong, stable, and flexible center will allow for a balanced body overall and less injuries.
  • Precision. Practicing the three C’s ...concentration, control, and centering will make each movement precise. Be aware of every part of your body while you continually check alignment and form to ensure that you are performing each exercise with the intention it requires.
  • Flowing movement or rhythm.  Combining all the above principles will create rhythmic, flowing movement patterns. This will allow you to move with extreme efficiency and the right amount of effort once enough execution has been done.

When practicing movement patterns you want to ensure that you are not just going through the motions but controlling the body with the mind. Every movement has a purpose while quality is being demonstrated rather than quantity. A higher level of understanding and performance is achieved when the principles are implemented at all times. I believe that a solid foundation must be the first step to higher levels of performance. The solid foundations are the principles. Think of your body as a house. Without a solid, strong foundation the house can start to crack and then crumble if no attention is given. As you move forward on your Journey consider adding Pilates to strengthen your foundation.

In Health,

Kathleen Maier, Master Pilates Trainer, Calgary Sports Health and Performance       

#400, 640 12th Ave SW Calgary (403) 454-1701

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