Golf game, tennis or swimming not as good as it can be ? 5 Pilates moves you can do at home to boost your performance
Can’t hit your golf ball as far as you would like? Can’t hit the tennis ball over the net as fast as you need to ? Is swimming more of an effort than it needs to be ? As a senior physiotherapist having worked in Pilates for 13 years and seen many recreational and professional athletes, there are some simple and common physical weaknesses that you can easily work on at home that makes the difference between great performance and struggling to get through the game or training. These are my favourite 5 home based Pilates exercises you can do at home, to really get your best performance
- Bridging – Pelvic or SIJ instability is one of the most common problems I see in both young and older athletes and players. Pelvic instability causes pain in the bottom due to weakness of the gluteus maximus muscle that supports holding the pelvis upright on the hip bones when walking, running and especially to keep the hips stable when swinging a golf club. Try the following exercise to get you started. Lie on your back, with both knees bent. Lift one leg up in the air only. Lift your bottom up using the leg that is on the ground only and hold for 3 sec, then lower the bottom down
- Core stability training – Working on your core is not only important to protect your back, but is also important for keeping the back stable on the pelvis when swinging the golf club or when swimming freestyle. Lie on your back, with the knees bent. Draw your lower stomach below your belly button in gently only. Holding this contraction, lift one leg off the bed, then lower it down, then repeat on the other side
- Calf strengthening – The calf muscles are important for propulsion and one of the major stabilizing muscles of the foot. Weakness of these muscles means slower reactions to the change in surface on uneven ground, which can be trained. Stand up next to the wall, hands up against the wall for balance. Lift one foot off the ground. With the foot that is on the ground, lift your heel up off the ground to come up onto your toes and hold for 5 seconds, then lower the heel down
- Squats – Quadriceps (the muscles at the front of the thighs) are extremely important muscles for walking, getting up and down off the ground and being able to walk up and down hills. Weakness in these muscles not only leads to slower running, but increased risk of the most common knee injury, knee cap pain (patella-femoral joint irritation). Stand with your back to the wall, with your feet out away from the wall about 30 centimetres. Lower your body down, until your knee are bend to about 45 deg, keeping your back against the wall. Hold for 5 seconds and then return up
- Standing on one leg – When you walk you spend 80% of your time standing on one leg and running requires standing on one leg 100% of the time, so it is a very important skill to have. Stand in a door frame and hold onto the door frame with your hands. This will give you support. Lift one leg off the ground, then let go of one hand, then the other hand (but keep them close to the door frame for support if needed). Start by maintaining this one legged stance for 5 sec, then 10 seconds, then up to 60 second when confident. You can also slowly take your hands further away from the door frame as you become more confident
These 5 simple Pilates exercises are a great start and foundation to a practical and targeted home exercise program that will translate into real results in your sport.