Since its invention, Pilates has been the exercise method of choice for dancers and gymnasts. More recently, elite athletes from all different sports have started to use Pilates for performance enhancement and to keep them injury-free. Alison Waters, a professional squash player, is one such athlete. Here she shares the benefits of Pilates for her squash game.
1. Why did you start taking Pilates lessons?
I play squash professionally and it’s very demanding on the body. I also had a herniated disc (when a soft cushion of tissue between the bones in your spine pushes out) in my back a few years back. I’ve have had a few relapses since then.
We fly around the world, so the combination of squash and travelling means my back tends to stiffen up. That’s why I thought Pilates would be a fantastic thing to do. I see it as one of the most important sessions of my training week.
2. How do you find Pilates benefits your sport?
Squash involves lots of twisting and turning. So, in my Pilates sessions, we work a lot on rotational exercises and getting my back moving as much as possible. It’s also great for my overall strength and flexibility and for making sure my core is strong. I have found muscles that I never knew I had!!
3. Have you noticed an improvement in your sports performance since you started Pilates? Do you feel you are injured less frequently because of it?
From when I started about three months ago, my back feels so much looser and it’s able to rotate more.
I’m also finding my overall strength is better as well and on court I’m feeling much stronger in my movement. It’s amazing how after just a short time I’ve made such good progress. I wish I had started Pilates sooner in my career. I make sure I’m practicing some of the exercises every day to keep on top of things.
4. What aspects of Pilates do you enjoy the most?
I really enjoy Pilates with Roxy (one of the Complete Pilates clinical instructors) and find my sessions go so quickly. I’ve found it so nice to have something new in my training week. It’s been great to learn about new movements and understanding about my body more. I love all the rotation and hip exercises as well and find these the most beneficial for me.
5. What does your weekly fitness routine consist of and how does Pilates fit into that?
I train twice a day for 5 1/2 days a week. A lot of it [is spent] on court hitting and in games. [My training also includes] routines and fitness work. I do weights 2-3 times a week as well.
I now do an individual Pilates class once a week and feel this really links in well with my other training. After seeing the amazing benefits from it, it’s now a session I make sure I fit in every week.
6. Which exercises do you practise at home? Do you use any for activation before a game?
As I travel a lot I make sure I practise my Pilates when I’m away. I do lots of the rotation exercises and hip and glute activation. I find this especially useful after a long flight. I also use these exercises as part of my warm up and cool down routine when I’m playing.
Thank you to the Complete Pilates for all your help and support. A special thanks goes to Roxy who has been absolutely fantastic.
You can find out more about Alison by following her on Twitter. See how Pilates can also help you!
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