Playing sports requires preparation for performance and injury prevention. Rotational sports can place a lot of demand on our bodies and can lead to overuse and chronic injuries. As a Physical Therapist, I often treat such injuries. Common injuries include rotator cuff impingement and tears, tendonitis, bursitis, sprains (ligament injury), strains (muscle or tendon injury), back pain (due to strain or disc), and stress fractures to name a few. I have found Pilates to be an effective modality to train for sports and /or to rehab post injury. By improving rotational mobility, strength, and power, sports injuries can be prevented.

Demands for rotational sport include mobility, stability, alignment for efficient movement, coordination, and balance. Rotational mobility is necessary for distribution of forces throughout the joints, efficiency of movement, and maximum force generation and power. Overall, by increasing range of motion, one can increase speed of movement.  Pilates addresses all of these demands both on stable and moving surfaces. The reformer is one example of a moving surface.

Posture and alignment through Pilates exercise place our joints in their optimal position thus minimizing destructive forces to the joints or even discs in the spine. Posture can limit overuse and impingement syndromes in the upper extremity often seen with golfers, tennis and baseball players, or any throwing sport.

Faulty movement patterns and muscle imbalances are another cause of injury with sports. Pilates can isolate these imbalances. The use of Pilates equipment can assist movement to correct these faulty patterns.

Rotational strength and power is needed to turn and sprint, kick, throw, catch, and hit. A strong core helps an athlete to achieve this power. Pilates can isolate static and dynamic stabilizers. Pilates strengthens our core and trunk musculature for improved endurance with all sports. For those who have done Pilates, you know how much stronger your core becomes through practice.

Rotational sports involve multiple joints moving in multiple planes of motion. This is called movement integration and is one of the Pilates principles. For example, in Pilates you may address the shoulder and scapula moving on the thorax or the pelvis moving on the lower extremities. Pilates combines rotational activities with stability exercises. Examples of exercises include Rotational lunge on the reformer with rotating discs, squats for glute activation on rotating discs, and hip circles performed in feet in straps on reformer or the tower.  

rotational lunge on rotating disc

rotational lunge on rotating disc

Sword Pull- from kneeling arm series

Sword Pull- from kneeling arm series

An example of stability and rotational movements with the upper body is kneeling side arm series on reformer and chair.

Individual training in Pilates should be specific to the sport activity. Progression of activity should be gradual and increase in intensity over time. If you already participate in Pilates you already know its benefits. If you are athlete that performs at the highest level or a recreational athlete that hopes to play for years, I highly recommend making Pilates a part of your regular training or exercise routine.


– Julie P.T. PMA CPT,

Ready to add Pilates to your training program? Call 239-254-9300 to learn how Pilates will enhance your performance on and off the court!