Sports Prehabilitation & Injury Prevention with Pilates




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Published November 14, 2020
roller derby sports prehabilitation


What if you could prevent injury before it happens and stops you doing what you do best? 

Pilates is widely recognised for its role in sports injury rehabilitation, but it’s also a great tool in injury prevention and maintenance for athletes and sportspeople.

But what exactly is prehabilitation, and how can Pilates help

Prehabilitation (pre-hab) is the process of increasing the body’s capacity and movement, allowing the body to maintain a higher threshold for activity. By increasing muscular strength and stamina, the body can perform to a higher capacity, while reducing the incidence of new injury. Every sport is different, in the same way that every sportsperson has different strengths and weaknesses. Certain sports target different muscles groups and are more prone to certain injuries. For example, ankle or Achilles injuries are common in netballers, whereas wrist and back injuries are more associated with tennis players. Every person is different too. Our bodies are not perfect and may be prone to injury re-occurrence like ligament sprains and muscles tears. 

Repetitive movement patterns in a sport can place significant strain on the body.

Pilates for sports techniques can be used to prepare the body and correct imbalances to maximise sports performance. Sportspeople can increase their range of motion and strength, particularly in problem areas of the body. By targeting injury prone, or potentially problematic areas of the body, you can reduce the chance of future injury. Using the previous example, a netballer might look at improving their ankle stability, and the tennis player may want to strengthen their back to improve their serve. 

A Pilates pre-hab program not only helps to prevent injury, but also create a routine for faster injury recovery and for preventing the exacerbation of chronic injuries. 

Pilates can even act as a diagnostic tool to help athletes and sports people find areas of weakness to then target. 

Because Pilates exercises challenge specific muscle groups, you may find you have strengths and weaknesses you had not considered before in your chosen sport! This can have a wide range of benefits in your sporting performance and general health and wellbeing.

At Pilates Can we have seen how Pilates can benefit athletes in their chosen sport. Roller derby enthusiast Tara, AKA ‘Fast and Furiosa’, joined us in 2017 to help manage injuries and improve her derby performance.

Full contact sports like roller derby can be hard on the body and often require frequent management of injuries, strains, or sprains. In addition, Tara is hypermobile and manages femoroacetabular impingement, scapular dyskinesia and Osgood-Schlatter disease (knee condition) 

Pilates pre-hab has helped Tara with injury prevention, recovery, and maintenance. She credits Pilates with helping her improve flexibility, strength, balance, body awareness and endurance. Her body anatomical structures are now conditioned enough to load simultaneously to withstand the repetitive knocks and crashes common in derby, preventing common acute derby injuries. 

When she developed scapular dyskinesia in her right shoulder in the lead up to her team’s international derby debut in 2018, she was able to recover using physio and Pilates to reduce pain and increase movement. Regular Pilates not only helped get her shoulder under control, it has also been essential in maintaining her other conditions that stem from hypermobility. Pilates keeps her muscles and joints moving within a controlled range which is essential in maintaining her health and sporting performance. 

“Regular Pilates sessions have helped me get to the stage where my hip pain doesn’t leave me limping around for days after a weekend long tournament, and my shoulder doesn’t require any extra physio on top of Pilates anymore.” – Tara 

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- TARA SMITH aka ‘Fast and Furiosa’

Since adding Pilates to her exercise routine, Tara has moved from a B-Grade Div-2 roller derby team to a local WFTDA team currently ranked 14th worldwide. Her team won the 2018 North American West Continental Cup, and she was voted Canberra Roller Derby League’s Jammer of the Year in 2019. Tara enthusiastically recommends Pilates to other players looking to take their game to the next level.

“I am constantly recommending Pilates to other derby players. The good core strength is vital for absorbing hits, and the control and body awareness gained have been invaluable… Pilates is enough to keep my issues stable enough for me to train and skate as furiously as I need to” – Tara

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- TARA SMITH aka ‘Fast and Furiosa’

About the author 

Claire Gunther is a PAA Principal Level Pilates Instructor with over 20 years and 20k+ hours of professional Pilates delivery experience.


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