Simply, Pilates aims to improve strength of the trunk, during movement whilst working in a neutral spine.
The muscles in the trunk includes abdominal, both deep and superficial, the gluteals and deep muscles around the spine – these muscles will be known onwards as the ‘core’.
The movements are controlled, aiming to improve balance and co-ordination. To most Pilates exercises look easy, but with correct control of the core muscles, it can be very challenging.
Pilates exercises are done in all positions, including standing, lying on your front, side and back. The Pilates exercises aim to increase flexibility and range of movement but these aren’t sustained positions, as you would find in Yoga.
The control of Pilates movement is a neurological pathway; making Pilates a mind-body method of training, and has been linked to mindfulness and sensory awareness also.
How does it relate to Crossfit?
Within Crossfit the body is pushed to its limits, whether that be a gruelling WOD or heavy Olympic Lifting, and in an ideal world during Crossfit we need body control to make it through the WODS.
A specific exercise where control is 100% needed is Snatch and Overhead Squat. The reason these 2 moves are challenging is because they take the bar overhead, and individuals tend to compensate if they struggle with shoulder control.
If you struggle with shoulder control / mobility, the trunk compensates to allow this movement, normally resulting in the ribs or chest being pushed out. In turn, this causes an arch in the back and this makes it harder to activate the abdominals because they are effectively extended.
This is a common problem I see with Crossfit members so I work Pilates movements with weights / PVC pipes over the head. By working the core control and focusing on the rib/chest position during Pilates exercises, it will benefit you when working overhead with a barbell and also on the rig during a Crossfit session.
Having a neutral spine / pelvis is cued during every Pilates session – this links very closely to Crossfit, as you would not, or should not, perform a deadlift with a rounded spine / tucked pelvis, or perform a squat with a rounded spine held in the bottom position – if you do either of these techniques during a Deadlift and Squat it could lead to injury. Pilates exercises help you to become more aware of this position, for you to transfer across to your Crossfit training.
Pilates uses full body movement during exercises, therefore making it functional to what we do daily. It is rare that you use your body in isolation, so Pilates involves the whole body. It has been researched, when looking at core strength, that if your core is strong, it generates energy/power/strength to the peripheral limbs. This means that if you activate your core, ideally you should be able to perform any movement – assuming technique is correct.
I say that your core is your powerhouse of movement, so you want that to be strong to allow you to generate that power through the body!
IMPROVE ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE
Many sporting athletes practice Pilates to aid their training, such as Gareth Bale, Andy Murray and Kobe Bryant. It has been researched showing that Pilates can lead to better flexibility, core strength, injury prevention and overall athletic performance.
Pilates is at 10am every Sunday, at Crossfit Widnes, with Jodie.
Next week (13.08.2017) completely FREE - USE THE CODE FREEPILATES - Just book via the link below :