Core Exercises for Spring Sports by Julie Erickson

03.29.2013

spring training

Core Exercises for Spring Sports

Hiking, running, baseball, golf, tennis and cycling are back!  Whatever your choice of spring sport, they all take a tremendous amount of stability, strength and balance throughout the entire body, but especially in the core.  Without a strong and controlled center, we can’t put power into our swings or keep our posture perfect while sweating out that last mile.

These five exercises will promote stability as well as proper elasticity in the obliques, to provide rotation when necessary and prevent rotation when it is not!  They will strengthen the abdominal muscles, back muscles and deeper core muscles in stability and mobility so that, even when your body is challenged from fatigue, its deepest muscles know what their job is.  Getting outside after months indoors is the best part of spring!  These are all exercises that we work in all of our mat classes from Intro to Advanced Mat Pilates at Endurance Pilates and Yoga.

1.  Single Straight Leg Stretch (Scissors)

Single Leg Stretch

What does it do?

Uses the deep core muscles to pull the belly in and up.  Challenges the rectus abdominus and obliques to maintain the upper torso in a flexed position. and the pelvis and hips still  The goal is to create length between the ribs and the hips, activate the core muscles and abdominals for stability and then to challenge that stability via the movement of the legs- great for all sports!

How to do it:

Lie down on your back, belly pulled in like somebody is getting ready to step on top of it!  Pull one leg in while the other leg reaches away.  Lower back should stay on mat, hips stay still and level, upper body stays still as leg pulls in- hands reach high to ankle or shin and leg is pulled in for a hamstring stretch.  Lower leg reaches away while pelvis and torso stays still.  Repeat 10 times with each leg.

2.  Double Leg Kick

DoubleLegKick

What does it do?

Opens the chest, stretches the chest and fronts of the shoulders. Utilizes the lats and rhomboids, hamstrings and glutes to open the entire front of the body.  One of the BEST exercises for cyclists and runners because it opens the upper body so well and engages the backs of the legs to stretch the front.

How to do it:

Lie down on your belly with your right cheek on the floor.  Clasp your hands as high up your back with the elbows draped to the sides and pointed to the floor.  Pull the belly off the floor, keep it lifted and press the pubic bone and hip bones into the mat. Bend your knees to draw your heels toward your seat and pull in tightly for 3 pulses in more deeply each time as the pelvis presses into the mat.  Press the feet into the floor, extend the arms and lift the chest and ribcage away from the mat, looking out in front of you.  Return to start position with your left cheek on the mat. Repeat 8 total times, increasing the stretch more with every repetition.

3. Spine Twist

SpineTwist

What does it do?

Contracts and stretches the internal and external obliques- uses transversus abdominus, rectus abdominus and back muscles for stability. and mobility.  Great for hikers, bikers, and especially for any sports that require controlled rotation and flexibility for power- golf, tennis, baseball and softball to name a few!  Starting in a perfectly upright position, pubic bone and tailbone aligned, rotate the ribcage to the right, keeping the nose in line with the breastbone.  Lift the ribcage off the hips to rotate further, exhaling and growing taller, twisting further until the waist has cinched in as much as possible.  Unwind back to center and repeat on the other side. Hips stay fixed and legs grounded to the floor without moving at all. 10 twists for each side.

4.  Pushup Holds

Pushup1

What does it work?

All of the muscles in the torso to maintain a straight and long alignment- abs, core, back.  Works the lats and rhomboids to keep shoulders in proper place and arms and shoulders to move the torso.  Works legs for stability- legs should be where most of the stability focus starts in order that the arms can handle the movement work.

Pushup2

How to do it:

Ideally done with legs extended, but can be modified to hands and knees.  The secret to pushups is utilizing the ENTIRE body for stability, including legs and core so exercisers should feel the rest of the body working as much as the arms!  When the entire body is involved to support weight the arms are able to bend and extend and work!  The addition of the holds adds in more challenge for the core.

10 Single pushups - then hold at the top of the pushup for 30 seconds and at the bottom of the pushup for 20 seconds.  Repeat 3 times.

5.  Teaser

Teaser1

What does it do?

Teaser adds in the challenge of supporting the weight of the legs while working the abdominals and back muscles to roll away from the floor.  This exercise is great for hikers and runners who need the control of the entire body from the core in order to maneuver and anyone who needs to keep their posture strong while engaged in their favorite outdoor activity.

Teaser2

How to do it:

Start on back with legs extended away from torso at a 45 degree angle to the floor, arms stretched behind head.  Lower back stays in contact with the mat.  Lift arms to ceiling and roll up to meet legs- reaching for the toes.  The legs never move!  Roll back away from legs to start position without moving legs and staying in complete control- the work is as challenging on the way down as it is on the way up!  5 repetitions.

About Julie Erickson

Julie Erickson, RYT, PMA® CPT is the owner of Endurance Pilates and Yoga in Arlington, Massachusetts, a studio dedicated to the practice of mind-body exercise and control of the body through the practice of pilates. Julie is one of the few instructors in the US to have earned the distinction of PMA (Pilates Method Alliance) Certified Pilates Instructor. Julie was the sole Pilates instructor selected to train the spectacular Artists of the Cirque du Soleil from the cast of TOTEM during their performances in Boston over the summer of 2012 and has worked with several other professional athletes, performers and dancers in Boston and NYC. Julie was also honored  to be selected in the fall of 2011 to attend Brooke Siler's prestigious re:AB bridge program for certified instructors in NYC and studies under second-generation instructors, Brooke Siler and Cary Regan.  She is also a NFHS certified high school coach and enjoys sharing her love of movement with all ages! She is Internationally Certified by Stott and Balanced Body Pilates systems. Julie believes that workouts should be fun and safe, yet challenging. An avid runner, she has run 11 marathons and an ultra-marathon 50K, and has completed over 2,000 training and racing miles in  2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012...all while building a business, raising a child, coaching high school girls and mentoring new instructors. Julie was featured in the March 2012 edition of Runners World magazine discussing pilates mat exercises for serious runners and is a popular contributor to several media outlets including Glamour Magazine, FitSugar, MSN., Boston Magazine and Hella Wella.  Julie brings this love of fitness and challenge to her students and friends at Endurance Pilates and Yoga.  

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2 Comments

  • Awesome post. really helpful it is. thanks for sharing with us.

  • These exercises are so good for the spine and the best part is one can do it at home. :)

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