Pilates and Paddle-boarding

This weeks blog post is a little bit different. We spoke to Kerry, an awesome Bluefin paddler who has worked with us on a blog post before (read that here.) She told us all about how she uses a combination of paddleboarding AND Pilates to stay fit and healthy. Take it away, Kerry!

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Kerry with her Bluefin SUP in its bag. Ready to go! We could just dive right in that water – couldn’t you?

What is Pilates?

Pilates is described as a “mind-body centering technique- emphasising the importance of beginning movement from a central core of stability- the lumbo-pelvic region”

It was developed by Joseph Pilates during the first World War as he recognised the importance of rehabilitation for those in hospital, and who also realised even then that mental and physical health are closely connected.

Who can do Pilates?

Anyone! There are adaptations and levels of difficulty to suit all ages, ability and fitness.

, Pilates and Paddle-boarding
Awesome info-graphic we found here.
We like the ‘Me’ Time part…

What are the health benefits?

There are many reports of the purported effects Pilates can have, but there is, as is often the case with fitness approaches, the need for more research.

Devotees say that regular Pilates can improve posture, muscle tone, balance and joint mobility as well as relieve stress and tension. For athletes, Pilates can complement training by developing whole body strength and flexibility and help to decrease the risk of injury.

Clients who have been attending my Pilates classes over the last 7 months have reported anecdotally decreased knee pain, decreased neck pain and headaches, decreased back pain during functional activities i.e. driving, and also sporting activities i.e. Mountain Biking, and improved mobility in various joints including the spine as a whole.

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Pilates can help you with knee and neck pain, alongside improving your mobility. All the better to paddleboard with!

There are a number of Key Elements or principles which define Pilates, and which differ according to which approach you have been trained in.

I have trained with the APPI- as I am a physiotherapist in my day job ( as well as a mum etc etc!!), so they describe Breathing, Centering, Shoulder blade, Rib cage, and Head and Neck placement as their key components to movement within the Pilates exercises.  

The Pilates series is aimed at directing activity and movement to target specific muscle slings which work in unison to allow us to move functionally. In this way, we can aim exercises and workouts to muscle groups which we know we will use in different sports.

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… and by different sports, Kerry means paddleboarding – obviously!!!

Pilates before you paddleboard

In paddleboarding essentially all the muscle slings are involved- as there is the need for synchronicity between the upper limb and lower limb as well as keeping stable through the trunk . The muscle groups which are likely to have the highest need for endurance and strength are in my opinion, the gluteals (buttocks!!), the abdominals- including the obliques, and the latissimus dorsi along with the back extensors.  We also require good range of movement in the shoulders and mid spine in order to effectively use the paddle.

, Pilates and Paddle-boarding
Pilates will help you paddle more efficiently as it helps to extend the movement in your shoulders and spine.

How To: Pilates

I have put together a few videos which demonstrate a few exercises from the Pilates Matwork repertoire that you can try on those rainy days when the SUP stays firmly ensconced in its bag! Exercises to help both with getting joints moving, and improving muscle strength.

Please exercise at your own level and ability. If you have had any previous back issues, please consult a physiotherapist before you start.

Most Pilates exercises work on the principle of moving on the exhalation part of the breath, but in the absence of guidance, so long as you ARE breathing, and not holding your breath, you will be fine.


Thank you!

We just want to say a BIG Bluefin SUP Thank you to Kerry for writing the above blog. We are Pilates novices (and that is being polite), so it is great to be able to hear it from an expert.

If you have something to say about paddle boarding, SUP hacks, tips or just want to write about your experience on the board. Send me an email!

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