Pilates is not stretching, relaxing, low-key, or whatever synonym you choose to use that basically means easy. Joseph Pilates was a tough-as-nails boxer who demanded intense dedication from his clients.
Pilates is about strengthening your core. But the point of creating and maintaining a strong core isn’t just so you can do more advanced Pilates work.The goal is to have a strong core and proper alignment so your body functions properly and you can do all those activities you love for the rest of your life. If your muscles are properly balanced, you aren’t going to create wear and tear of your joints that lead you down a road full of pain, arthritis, injuries, tears, surgeries, physical therapy, or worst case, not being able to do your favorite activities ever again.
Let’s take a look at some popular activities.
The stereotypical runner has over tight hamstrings. Hamstrings are the muscles on the backs of your thighs that if tight prevent you from touching your toes or straightening your legs when sitting on the floor. If your hamstrings are tight, then they will pull on the muscles in your backside and eventually the lower back. (Side note…your lower back is part of your core. Your core is not just the abdominals. Think three-dimensional!) Now let’s flip over to the front. If your hamstrings are tight, then your quadriceps are typically overstretched and weak as a result. I cannot tell you how many runners I’ve encountered over the years who have lower back and gluteal muscle issues because of tight hamstrings, or knee problems because of weak quadriceps. And trying to get runners to stop running in order to restore their bodies to balance is practically impossible. There is an obvious emotional response to not being able to pound the pavement, so they get caught in a nasty cycle of injury/rehab. So if you are a die hard runner, I beg you to find a good Pilates instructor to get you to a place where you can keep on feeding that high.
So unless you have a super cool ambidextrous talent, most people are righties or lefties when it comes to their golf swings. The game of golf sets players up for muscular imbalances because of the nature of a golf swing. The muscles on one side of the body develop and strengthen differently than the opposite side. It’s important to put some effort into stretching and/or strengthening the opposite muscles to even out the body. A golf swing requires use of your neck, shoulders, arms, spine, pelvis, knees, ankles and feet. Neglecting to address the imbalances of those joints can cause a lot of problems down the road. What’s awesome is that the professional golf community has grown to really embrace Pilates. It’s common to hear PGA golfers talk about how Pilates has helped their game and improved their bodies in general. There are many workshops available for Pilates instructors to learn how to work with golfers, so search for a trained instructor in your area. Chances are your body will benefit and you may shave a couple of strokes off your game.