For any sport that requires a powerful swing- tennis, golf, baseball, softball- Pilates is incredibly helpful. The basic principle of Pilates is strong core and controlled movement away from the core. When driving a club or bat or racquet, the best way to achieve strength and stability is to be able to ground the lower body and generate rotational power through the glutes, hamstrings. The obliques and core muscles put the finishing touches on the swing movement and the resulting power drives the entire body through the swing, not just the shoulders and arms. You can get away with a swing that just uses these muscles for awhile, but injuries are bound to occur and think about how far or powerfully you could hit a pitch or ball with proper execution!
Here are 4 exercises to help power your swing with your core and glutes!
1. Criss Cross
From seated position, roll back until lower back lengthens into mat, abs pulled in and hands stacked behind head. Reach right leg long and pull left knee in. Rotate ribcage as far as possible to the left, but keep the head in line with the tailbone, spine elongates into mat, abs strong. Lift higher through center and rotate to other side. Repeat 20 times.
Works: core, abs, hip extension, rotational stability and mobility
2. Hip Extension
From hands and knees, wrists slightly behind shoulders, knees under hips. Press right leg long and back, keeping hips squared to floor- coming in to this start position should be ab, glute and hamstring work.. Leg is long and stretching, belly muscles pull in very strongly. It is imperative that the lower back stays still throughout the entire exercise- imagine a wine glass lower back throughout. Starting with leg parallel to floor, pulse up in mini movements, focusing on the up of the movement and stabilizing the torso. The lower belly pulls in tightly to keep the lower back safe- the focus is on proper, small movements. Do 10 micro lifts with the toes pointed down, 10 with the toes reaching and ten with the knee bent and the heel pressing to the ceiling. Repeat for 5 sets without losing proper form and stability in the torso.
Works: glutes, hamstrings, torso stabilizers, abs, core, lats
3. Teaser/Hip Twist
Scoop belly muscles in, rock behind the sitz bones and roll back just enough to engage the belly muscles. Reach the legs out, toes at eye level. Keep chest lifted and shoulder blades drawing in. Pull lower belly muscles in deeply to round the lower back using the abs to control the lower back to touch the mat and lift back up- legs never move. Repeat 10 times with complete control. After last repetition, reach arms back to mat. Chest stays lifted. Reach legs over to right, in line with the hip, left hip lifts. Stretch legs away from stable torso and pull over to left, right hip lifting. Reach legs to ceiling above hips. Reverse direction. 5 in each direction.
Works: abs, core, rotational stability and mobility muscles, upper and mid back postural muscles Stretches: chest, shoulders
On back, press upper back and triceps into floor and use belly muscles to stretch lower back into the mat. Lengthen and reach legs to right, hips grounded, reach legs away toward 3 o’clock, keeping lower back stretched into mat. Reach legs out toward 6 o’clock, hips grounded, using lower belly to keep pelvis from tilting away with legs. Reach legs over to 9 o’clock, stretching both legs long and evenly away. Reverse direction. Repeat 5 times in each direction.
Works: abs, core, upper back, triceps, inner thighs, external rotation in mobility and stability
Stretches: rotation muscles, chest