For swimmers, proper body alignment is of upmost importance. It is critical that swimmers work with the water and the slightest misalignment can do the opposite. In the majority of training for swimmers, the focus tends to be on the universal muscles, or the outside musculature system. The inside “stabilizing” system tends to be overlooked. This imbalance can leave a swimmer open to misalignments within the body which can add seconds to a race or even worse, injuries.
SO WHY PILATES??
Pilates focuses on strengthening the inner support systems or what we refer to as the “powerhouse”. This consists of the deep abdominal muscles as well as the muscles closest to the spine. The exercises in Pilates are used to develop core strength and control by integrating this powerhouse with both shoulder and pelvic girdles. Pilates teaches swimmers how to activate this support system. It allows them to regain the balance and alignment as well as undo those irregular “firing” patterns that may exist. Through Pilates, swimmers will gain stronger stomach muscles which will assist and become the building blocks in all of their movements. For a competitive swimmer, a strong centre will keep scapula, shoulders, pelvis and spine balanced and aligned. This will allow more movement of the arms up and out of the water without the straining of neck muscles. This in turn will lead to less wear and tear and a faster moving body in the water. Finally, Pilates also allows swimmers to concentrate less on their distance traveled in the water and more on breathing, body orientation and balance for a more fluid race.