The Swing of Things – Pilates & Rotational Sports

Golf, tennis, and baseball are just a few sports that demand mobility, stability, coordination, balance, and alignment for efficient movement. Athletes who participate in these rotational sports are excellent candidates for Pilates. If we take a moment to think about the demand placed on the body when playing any of these sports, we can quickly see that repetitively swinging the arm overhead, if not integrated with the rest of the body, can easily cause injury. Common injuries include rotator cuff impingement and tears, tendonitis, bursitis, sprains, and back pain. All of these things can be avoided and minimized with one thing…Pilates! As Pilates teachers, we know how to help our clients integrate movement efficiently. We are great at looking at the bigger picture. For example, when we observe someone performing footwork on the reformer, we are not just looking at foot and ankle alignment. We are watching how the knees track in line with the hips; do their hips seem level; does the weight distribution and timing seem to be balanced; are the ribs in line with their pelvis and softly resting on the carriage; are the shoulders open and level; is the head centered with their body? These are just some of the basic things a Pilates instructor is trained to see– just imagine how powerful a Pilates instructor’s intervention could be with an athlete! Pilates for rotational sports can help enhance this skill set by looking at the dynamic relationships of the body. Using Polestar’s six Principles of Movement, together with the Pilates repertoire, we can make better decisions about which exercises to use with athletes to optimize their sports performance. Pilates for rotational sports is synonymous with Pilates for injury prevention. As alignment is improved, efficiency and endurance increase. When our joints are moving in their optimal way, muscle actions are more balanced and the likelihood of injury decreases. By adding Pilates to an athlete’s workout routine, we can better educate them so that they can get the most out of their play. EXPERIENTIAL / TRY THIS AT HOME Increasing spinal mobility in general can have a very positive impact on rotation of the spine. Because all of our ribs are attached to the spinal column, increasing the mobility of the ribcage can increase the mobility of the spine. One of my favorite ways to access more movement through the ribs is through breath. Breathing for spinal mobility: Props needed – yoga strap, belt or scarf 1. Lie on your back with the strap under your ribcage, crossing in front; hold opposite straps with hands so that when you pull on the straps it tightens around your ribcage. 2. Pull the strap tight enough that you can just barely feel it against your ribcage. 3. Inhale and allow the strap to slide to accommodate the increase in size of your ribcage. Notice how much strap you let slide. 4. Exhale and pull the strap to help your ribcage narrow with your exhale. 5. Repeat this 8-10 times and see if the total difference from full exhale to full inhale increases.

Reader Interactions


  1. Great article!! Keep them coming! We appreciate your time and energy to helping the Pilates community grow and stand out in the movement world! I have been teaching for 10 years and hope that I am proving my growth and progress and reading articles like these that help meditate where we are as practitioners helps tremendously.

    • Thank you Christina! We appreciate the feed back and love to see the community grow!

  2. The more we move and place physical stress on the body due to sports or some other activity; the more we will discover the benefits of practicing Pilates will have in the performance of these activities and the longevity in that performance as well. Thanks for the information. We shared it.

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