Andy Murray Photo: Skysports
Every sport puts a different set of pressures and stresses on the body. Team sports such as basketball, football, and soccer create a lot of tension on our knees due to constant running, sprinting, and lateral movements. These sports have the highest risk of various leg related injuries, based on a study by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Individual endeavors, like tennis, are no exception.
Like team sports, tennis is a high speed, power-based game that requires spinal rotation and extension. Even if it’s a start-stop kind of racket sport, it significantly affects our upper body, particularly the back, hip, and shoulder. This is why highly esteemed professional tennis players including Martina Navratilova, Venus and Serena Williams, and Andy Murray, have all credited Pilates for their respective careers’ longevity.
Tennis is one of those sports players typically start at an early age. Parents get children into the sport early because it teaches them valuable life lessons that they will carry with them for the rest of their life. It also teaches them many important physical skills. Tennis website Play Your Court contributing writer Jess Goulart wrote an article in which she documents how tennis helps develop bone strength, hand-to-eye coordination, aerobic and cardiovascular stamina, flexibility, speed, motor skills, immune system and balance among other things.
A typical tennis match, regardless of the level, entails loads of high impact sprinting and side-to-side actions. Especially if you’re playing on a hard surface, your joints take a considerable battering on a regular basis. With this, you need strong stabilizing muscles for those short bursts of speed and sharp turns. Pilates is a great way to strengthen the glutes in order to produce power for those types of movements.
For the upper body, particularly the back, hip, and shoulders Pilates helps loosen the normally tight muscles surrounding the spine, while reinforcing core stability. In addition, it develops strong rotator cuff muscles that are essential in terms of balancing and mobilizing the shoulder. As a result, shots are stronger and serves become more accurate. Lastly, since Pilates focuses on strengthening core muscles, it develops overall balance. This will make it easy to sprint and reach down quickly for those sudden drop shots, as well as backpedal and return lobs.
In short, Pilates and sports – whether team or individual – complement each other very well. Not only does Pilates aid athletes when it comes to injury prevention, it also advances their bodies in ways they least expect it. So if you’re a budding athlete or a seasoned pro, incorporate Pilates in your workout regimen and benefit from its long-term results.
Written by Tennis website Play Your Court contributing writer Jess Goulart