As an avid skier myself, my knees, back and everything else have taking a bashing over the years and are noticeably not so forgiving these days!
With the ski season fast approaching, and our ski chalets in La Rosiere getting booked up fast, I mentioned to a good friend of mine that I needed to try and address the knee aches before they take another pounding this season. She suggested Pilates as she has been going for years and says it has really helped with her core stability, balance and general strength. I decided to give it a go and went along to meet Amanda, who owns and runs my local Pilates studio.
After an initial assessment she told me how Pilates would help condition the whole body, even the knees, ankles and feet. She explained that by doing Pilates exercises you develop a strong “core,” which is essential for balance and prevention of injuries, which is vital not only for everyday life but for skiing too.
According to the NHS, the health benefits of Pilates include improving posture, muscle tone, balance and joint mobility, as well as relieving stress and tension, and can complement sports training by developing whole body strength and flexibility.
So three weeks into my Pilates beginners classes what do I think ?…. Well I have to say that even after my first class I became much more aware of my posture and balance, I now find I’m not slouching as much and learning to engage my muscles (even the ones I didn’t know I had).
It also takes real concentration, so the class allows me to focus and stop thinking about all I need to do for Mountain Heaven, the kids etc. It’s MY time.
I’m really looking forward to learning more, building that all-important core strength and seeing the results on the slopes. I will let you know how I get on.
Here’s a word from Amanda, who runs Body Core Pilates and is the most passionate and amazing advocate for Pilates…..
Pilates for Snow sports…
“Pilates (sounds like Pil..art..eez) is it any good for skiers or snowboarding? My reply to this often asked question is, ‘Why would you not do Pilates to help with your skiing, are you crazy!’ We all want longevity in our sporting lives and life in general don’t we? If I told you Pilates would help you with your technique, posture, strength, balance, agility, mobility, flexibility, post activity recovery, keep you ahead of your game and oh I could go on and on and…….. I think you get my point! Surely you would be running to join your first class.
“Sadly most people wait until they need to or are told to join a Pilates class rather than using this practice to prevent, sadly this is human nature…if only…
“Lucky for you though you are reading this and perhaps wanting to delve a little deeper into learning about the Pilates practice, once known as Contrology before the great man Joseph Pilates died at the grand age of 83 in 1967.
“Now for skiers in particular, the whole Pilates system is great. Pilates involves a lot of extension and rotation, which is great for skiers as the sport requires you to move your body in ways that you just don’t need to do every day. We’re made to move, and I teach so many skiers.
“The Clam is a great one – very much for working on hip rotation and the deeper buttock muscles. It allows the hip and knee to rotate outwards, improving mobility and stability.
“Footwork – get the toes to move, foot muscles, and bones of the feet and ankles. Again this helps with mobility and stability. Take your shoes off at home, which makes your feet work harder to maintain balance.
“Balance moves – people hate it, but anything people hate is what they want to be working on. Skiing is not an everyday thing, so they should be doing something all year long. Balance moves help you work on stabilising your spine. I also teach people how to get up in the best way for your body, which you will probably need to do a lot when skiing!
“You may have come across the ‘wall sit’, where you put your back against a wall, slide into an imaginary chair position and hold. For beginner skiers, the wall sit can improve leg strength, but you can rely too much on the resistance of the wall for this. At the end of the day you take the wall away when you ski, so try squats from standing, which build strength, mobility and balance using your own body weight.
“I will leave you with the original question I asked… ‘Why would you not do Pilates?’”
Till next time.
Image Credit: teammarche (flickr.com)