Core strengthening has become popular in the fitness industry and in the rehabilitation community, it is the basis for reconditioning the musculature of the body, says Ron Jegadeesh, PT, MBA, and owner of Pilates Fitness & Physical Therapy Center in Southfield.
He says one way of getting at the core is through Pilates, which emphasizes balancing the muscular structure, joint stability, mobility, and freedom of movement. “Pilates exercises can be more complex than traditional moves,” says Jegadeesh. “These complex patterns stimulate more neuromuscular efficiency which, in turn, strengthen muscles.”
Pilates focuses on working the muscles from the inside out. In this way, the deepest layers of muscles in the torso are trained to protect the lower back while allowing the body to perform movements with more ease and fluidity. This is achieved by performing controlled movements and by paying attention to the mind-body connection.
“The attention to the core, proper alignment, and efficient movement patterns that Pilates offers through various exercises, with or without specialized equipment, is a natural carryover for the athlete,” Jegadeesh says.
Athletes benefit from Pilates because it offers a challenging workout without impact or excessive weight bearing. “Unlike other strength training regimens traditionally designed for athletes, Pilates focuses on recruiting the deep stabilizing systems of the body to improve biomechanical efficiency and muscular balance,” he says.
There is also the added benefit of increasing proprioceptive awareness, a competitive skill that elite athletes use to their advantage.
Jegadeesh says that the Pilates taught at the local gym is not the same as that provided by a physical therapist specifically trained in Pilates exercise and rehabilitation. Jegadeesh is a certified instructor and updates his skills annually with courses that augment his knowledge such as Pilates for osteoporosis, Gyrokinesis, and motor control for prevention of low back pain. As a specialist in Pilates he can attest that it provides conditioning that exceeds standard calisthenic, isometric or isokinetic exercises. “For the athlete, Pilates exercises can be easily incorporated into regular sport-conditioning regimens, whether it’s a recovery workout or a warm-up for muscle activation,” Jegadeesh says.
A strong core region equals better athletic performance and that’s why many athletes include Pilates in their training programs. While it doesn’t build muscle, it helps with flexibility and strengthening, which are crucial to their performance.
By improving stabilization of the lumbo-pelvic region, Pilates can help reduce risk of injury, which is even more crucial to athletes. “For athletes who have been injured or have a previous history of injury, rehab Pilates is essential for rehabilitation before attempting fitness Pilates with an instructor or in a class environment,” Jegadeesh says. “It is important for athletes to undergo an initial assessment to understand individual needs and goals.”
Athletes working on improving their overall success in a given sport also benefit from Pilates because when all muscles systems work in a coordinated fashion, athletes can achieve more strength, coordination, and biomechanical efficiency.
There are six basic principles of Pilates that provide the athlete to initiate proper and corrective movements. These include proper breathing, axial elongation and core control, spine articulation, organization of head and shoulders, weight bearing, alignment of the extremities, and movement integration.
“Whether it’s injury prevention, rehabilitation or sports performance program, a strong core provides a dynamic link between the upper and lower body, alleviating excess stress on the peripheral joints,” Jegadeesh says, who is certified by three Pilates organizations. “Pilates is perfect for athletic development and provides a solid foundation from which the upper and lower extremities can generate force for running, throwing, rowing or jumping.” Pilates Fitness & Physical Therapy Center takes auto and medical insurance plans with a physician’s prescription.
(Look for this article in the next HOUR Detroit magazine!)