Ski season is quickly approaching. Pilates exercises and classes are an outstanding cross training tool to prepare you for the upcoming season whether you are a skier or snowboarder. Pilates is an excellent way to keep skiers fit and prevents injuries during the season. Pilates can improve the strength and stabilization of your core as well as increase your endurance and stamina, which can improve the quality and efficiency of your skiing. By practicing Pilates, you can develop a strong core, improved balance, and agility, all of which will also reduce impact on your back, hips, and knees. As a result, you become more efficient in your skiing, and you reduce wear and tear on your joints.
Pilates focuses on proper breathing techniques, increased body awareness, stabilization of your joints and torso and improved movement patterns. Similarly, Pilates develops flexibility, strength, endurance, speed, agility, and coordination -- each is a critical component of proficient skiing. Skiing requires agility through unstable terrain, which can put stress on various joints (particularly the knees and back) and promote overuse of certain muscle groups.
Good movement begins with optimal alignment. In skiing, good alignment helps a skier apply pressure through the feet while keeping the torso quiet. Proper body mechanics can not only improve your skiing and make you more efficient, but it can prevent unnecessary wear and tear on the back, hips, and knees. Certain muscles become fatigued and tight in skiers because the muscles are overused or ignored leading to muscle imbalances. Overuse injuries often result from muscle imbalances caused by the stresses of repetitive movement. Improper training, poor alignment, and failure to cross train can cause these injuries.
Pilates exercises emphasize proper body alignment before and during each exercise. This focus builds postural and movement awareness, an invaluable skill for injury prevention. As Joseph Pilates stated: “[t]he Pilates method teaches you to be in control of your body and not at its mercy.” Pilates develops more efficient movers with its focus on alignment, precision, and coordination. Bringing the body back into balance requires stretching the muscles that are dominant in skiing and strengthening the less dominant muscles. Many Pilates exercises do both simultaneously.