Yoga & Pilates in modern day Sport
For many years, Yoga & Pilates has often been associated with females as a recreational activity. However, contemporary sports people (including both genders) have turned their focus to these exercises in attempt to improve and prolong their performance at the highest level. Indeed, some of the most famous athletes in their own sports have opted to take up Yoga & Pilates for a number of different reasons. For example, in the past the likes of Roy Keane, Lebron James, James Haskell, Shaquille O’Neill, the New Zealand All-Blacks rugby team and many NFL teams, are all athletes that elected to take up the routines.This article will explain why athletes such as this partake in Yoga & Pilates.
To begin with, it’s important to know the difference between Yoga and Pilates. Many of the exercises you’ll see in a Pilates workout are inspired by yoga, and the postures in yoga are incredibly similar to the shapes and positions used in Pilates exercises. At the same time, there are exercises that are completely unique to Pilates as well as those that are specific to yoga class alone. A major difference is that in yoga, one generally holds each pose for a longer period of time, while in Pilates, you move at a slightly faster pace. Rather than holding a pose longer the way you would in a typical yoga class, staying in one position and cajoling the body into stretching more deeply through the breath, in Pilates, the practitioner dynamically extends as far as possible within a limited amount of time using resistance, core awareness and breath.
Turing our attention to sport, we see why these exercises are becoming more commonplace amongst athletes. There are many reasons that appeal to athletes and regular people to take up these activities. Incorporating Yoga & Pilates into an athletic programme is an excellent performance and mobility enhancer, and can cause the following adaptations:
• Improves muscle tone, flexibility, strength, balance and stamina
• Reduces stress and tension
• Boosts self esteem
• Improves concentration and creativity
• Lowers fat
• Improves circulation
• Stimulates the immune system
• Creates sense of well-being and calm.
• Tone & build long, lean muscles without bulk.
• Restore postural alignment & create a stronger, more flexible spine.
• Promote recovery from strain or injury.
• Improve circulation & heighten neuromuscular coordination.
• Compliment sports training and develop functional fitness for daily life activity.
• Correct over-training of muscle groups which can lead to stress and injury
• Improve the way your body looks and feels
Because different sports place different demands on athletes, Yoga & Pilates is used for various reasons. For example, with Rugby demanding rapid directional changes often at near-maximum pace, an inflexible physique is unhelpful. Rugby forwards must also possess the ability to deliver controlled power from the unbalanced body positions adopted in the scrum. A Pilates & Yoga programme can greatly improve general mobility and enhance core strength while easing the stress placed on the neck and spine during intense scrummaging.
Whereas in Cricket, research has indicated that muscle Cricket injuries such as Hamstring Strains and Side Strains are the most common cricket injuries. These Cricket injuries are due to the functional demands of the sport where occasional sprinting and ball throwing may be repeated across a seven hour day. In addition, bowling can incur shoulder injuries and pulled muscles. Fielders, who often spend long periods of time standing still, may become injured when they are called to make sudden movements – Pilates and yoga can help prevent cricketing injuries by improving reflexes and strengthening the entire body. A strong, supple body is less likely to become injured especially using cricket Stretches.
Yoga & Pilates has had a positive effect on the “older” sports stars such as Ryan Giggs, Brad Friedel and Brian O’Driscoll. They claim their sporting careers have been prolonged by the using this activity, along with improving their performance.
Yoga & Pilates is a practice that requires dedication but reaps many benefits well into the future. With all the high profile sports stars and teams implementing Yoga & Pilates, it’s plain to see that it certainly isn’t just something for the girls to do!
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