With buzz escalating over the Iron Man Championships in Malaysia this year, triathletes around the country, including Colombo, have been kicking their training into high gear. Combining the world's three most popular solo sports together- running, swimming, and cycling- triathlons have always attracted athletes looking to push the limits of the human body. To do well at a triathlon like Iron Man, one must become a master of harnessing strength and endurance through all three legs of the race. The duration of each leg and the long hours of training required means that there’s a significant risk of postural imbalance, muscle strain and injury over time. If not during the race itself.
We look at 3 reasons why triathletes get injured and how including Reformer Pilates in your training will help prevent these!
1. Need to activate your muscles, not just grow them
There are three types of muscles in the body: local & global stabilizers and global mobilizers. When we start to focus on pushing and pulling and shoving and kicking at the gym with the aim of getting strong for Iron Man Malaysia, we often ignore the small stabilising muscles which are not impacted or activated by large movements. In order to compensate for these muscles, your larger muscles will have to work over time - doing a job they really are not able to do. Add the hours up from training to the actual event - you increase the chances of injury.
Pilates loves the smaller muscles. Whilst Mat Pilates focuses on getting the deeper stabilising muscles of your hips & torso to activate and fire at will - Reformer Pilates kicks everything up a gear by working on every single joint - from shoulders to hips to knees and of course the core. The beauty of it is that you don't then have to go and strengthen these muscles - the exercises are so intelligently designed that it strengthens even as you activate!
2. Need to find stability to improve your speed
Stability - The best triathletes chase after developing stability as much as developing strength. Hip & pelvis stability is key to generating speed - especially during the running portion. Hip stability helps with the optimal biomechanics for running - keeping your gait steady (no rolling feet), keeping your knee in the optimal tracking position (because the hip doesn't turn inwards) and keeping your pelvis from arching (preventing lower back pain).
Our Reformer Pilates classes in Colombo challenge your balance and focuses on improving stability by pitting you against the springs and an unstable surface. For e.g. Lunges on the Reformer Sitting Box on a lighter spring makes your deep hip stabilising muscles work extra hard as the brain constantly rebalances your feet, your knees and your hips. Mat Pilates focuses on lumbopelvic stability by activating the deep core muscles and teaching you how to move your limbs independent of your torso.
3. Need to increase your range of motion
For running and swimming, hip extension & therefore strength & flexibility in your hip & back muscles become an important factor of success. Most people don't have enough range in their hip extension due to tight muscles. This lack of range will result in some other part of the body trying to pitch in to compensate - most often your pelvis by arching to send the leg further back. By improving flexibility in your hips AND strengthening the muscles that surround the back body, you free yourself from future lower back pain.
The beauty of the Reformer is that it stretches as it strengthens. Each movement requires you to resist the springs - but that resistance also leads to a simultaneous stretch. Let's go back to the lunge example: as you use your glutes to push against the springs into a lunge, your carriage leg ends up in a great hip flexor stretch. Similarly, Feet in Straps works beautifully to strengthen & stretch the back body - as the legs reach up to the ceiling, you receive a delicious hamstring stretch, then the same hamstrings & glutei are worked to strengthen as you pull the straps back down to the floor.
Check out Cristiano Ronaldo's crazy big hamstrings in action with Feet in Straps:
Curious? Want to kick ass at Iron Man Malaysia and bring back a medal or two to Colombo/Sri Lanka? Time to get some Mat & Reformer Pilates into your training schedule. With over 30 classes a week, we are sure to have a time that suits your schedule - to book in, click here. Let us know your Iron Man registration number and get a 10% discount on any class pack purchase!