Saturday, July 31, 2010

how a strong core helps your play

one of my newer students shared a great story with me the other day. after a couple months of pilates, apparently he was able to use his newly found core muscles to prevent a small basketball injury!

prone to turning his ankles, during one game, he caught and re-centered himself just before he was about to land improperly. he said that before, he would have just landed and then hurt himself (and in turn, putting himself out of commission, unable to enjoy more play time with his friends). since he felt more centered and stronger with his core, he quickly recognized the danger and avoided landing wrong all together. after several lessons, he had quickly developed more control over his overall movement.

pilates is amazing for applications in cross diagonal, multi-directional movement, as in playing basketball. this is why pro-basketball players like kobe bryant, lebron james and jason kidd practice pilates. the more stable your core muscles are that support the movement of your limbs around your spine and torso, the more control you will have over your body. it all makes perfect sense, the better functioning your axis, or midline is, the more control you will have over movement around this axis.

it's pure physics. think about a spinning top. a top that is spinning upright on its tip will spin much longer than one that is spinning on an angle. as a matter of fact, the one spun on an angle will quickly topple over. a strong core is analogous to the straight axis upon which the top spins by centrifugal force. the stronger the core is, the faster and more effective the spinning movement is and can be.

whether you're a recreational athlete or one that makes a living off of your sport, pilates will not only help your execution, more importantly, it will help you with injury prevention so you can keep playing for a long time!

Friday, July 16, 2010

continuing education

one day i was talking about handstands with a friend of mine after taking a yoga class. i revealed to him that my tense shoulders were what made them challenging for me and that coming to classes really helped me find methods to relax them. he responded by asking, "a pilates teacher has tense shoulders?" i said, "why yes i do!"

teachers all around are human beings too, with strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else. we are all results of heredity and conditioning. my students come to me for my expertise and i do my best to provide thoughtful and customized coaching. conversely, i seek the same in my teachers. specific to the above-mentioned case, i do attend yoga and pilates classes partly to remove tension from my shoulders.

when looking for a teacher or a coach, i find it best to find those who continue to challenge themselves and stay open to learning. the human body is a magnificent wonder, with the potential to reach some incredible states - both in health and disease. if you really think about it, our bodies are perpetually in motion, with cells dying and regenerating everyday. we must continue to evolve as our bodies do every day; therefore, there is no finish line when it comes to learning or teaching. there are endless corrections and progressions we can make with our wellness and daily existence.

so to my friend who questioned my tight shoulders, please remember, teachers need to be taken care of too. john wooden, one who inspired so very many beyond basketball, really said it so well - "it's what you learn after you know it all that counts." better believe that those teachers and coaches who stay open to learning are the ones that will take care of you the best.