Pilates and Golf

By Stephanie Muir

pilates golf

In this article we will be looking at how Pilates can be a great addition to the avid golfer’s tool box. Many people enjoy playing golf as a hobby and in their leisure time. It’s a great sport that can be enjoyed on your own or with others. Those that play golf professionally are certainly doing exercises for their core, if not already doing Pilates. So, if you enjoy your golf or know someone who does read on to learn how Pilates can reduce injuries common to one sided sports and improve your handicap.


Common Golf Injuries

Let’s begin by looking at the most commonly injured areas when playing golf. See the list below:

  • Wrist
  • Elbow
  • Shoulders
  • Neck
  • Lower back
  • Foot and ankle

As you can see from the list, the potential niggles from playing this leisurely sport range from head to toe.

 

Common Performance Goals in Golf

  • Aim
  • Swing
  • Fitness levels
  • Alignment

When someone wants to improve their golfing score the above points listed are what needs to be worked on. Pilates is a great way to improve all of them. Let’s go into how the Pilates method can do just that.

 

Importance of the Power House

Playing golf requires both stability and mobility to generate force and swing with finesse. The game requires whole body movements with the control and precision of a dancer. The irony is that in order to attain the effortless swing one needs to have a strong powerhouse. This is where Pilates comes in. Every movement in Pilates is taught to emanate from the powerhouse. Learning how to move first from your core anchors your body in movement. As a result, one will have more power and the likelihood of going into incorrect muscles and causing pain is reduced.

 

Importance of Proper Alignment

In addition, the alignment of the body is key, as in golf when lining yourself up with the ball. In Pilates you learn how to move your body in alignment. This is particularly good for your one-sided sports such as golf. A typical Pilates class always begins assessing one’s alignment in fairly basic exercises such as Footwork on the reformer. This vital exercise series gives an Instructor a bird’s eye view of where the imbalances lie in the body, from head to toe. Since golf is a one-sided sport the chances are one side will be tighter/weaker than the other. Correcting this misalignment using the Pilates system is what the method is all about. Various pieces of apparatus are on hand in a fully equipped studio to strengthen and lengthen appropriate muscle groups to bring the body back into alignment.

 

The Golf Swing

One of the most obvious movements in golf is the rotation from one side to the other when hitting the ball. The golf swing looks effortless but requires a great amount of strength, flexibility and body awareness. For example, grounding from your feet to your powerhouse and holding on to the club with enough strength to generate power, but not too much stifle the movement. This requires strength from the waist upwards and stability from the waist downwards. There are numerous exercises in Pilates that work to strengthen the oblique muscles and facilitate rotation from the waist. Mat work Pilates exercises such as Saw, Spine twist and Side bends are all good examples. There are numerous exercises on the apparatus available that can be used to challenge and to assist the weaker side. For example, Mermaid on the reformer lengthens and strengthens the obliques whilst also strengthening the arms and upper body as you press against the bar. In addition, strength in your wrists and shoulder girdle is very important when hitting the ball as it forms part of the energy chain to create force.

 

Focus and Concentration

In Pilates precision is key to smooth, flowing and just like golf a seemingly effortless movement. This movement incorporates your whole being, body, mind and spirit. Focus in golf is essential for aiming correctly. Training your mind to focus on the specific movement goals in Pilates will further assist your focus in golf.

 

Counterbalancing Overuse of Muscles

Repetitive use of muscles without training the opposing muscles groups will most certainly create an imbalance which inevitably leads to an injury. Exercises that open up the chest and hips in Pilates are indicated for your regular golfer as they ensure the chest and hips don’t get tight. As we mentioned in the alignment paragraph working the weak muscles and lengthening the tight ones will help to create balance.

 

Breathing

Learning to breathe correctly is important as it ensures effective powerhouse connection and ease of movement. In Pilates the breath plays an integral role in each and every exercise. From the mechanics of the exercise to calming the mind. Incorrect breathing patterns often inhibit efficient and effective movement of the upper body. Tight and inflexible upper body will reduce the effectiveness and power of your swing.

Learning to breathe correctly is important as it ensures effective powerhouse connection and ease of movement. In Pilates the breath plays an integral role in each and every exercise. From the mechanics of the exercise to calming the mind. Incorrect breathing patterns often inhibit efficient and effective movement of the upper body. Tight and inflexible upper body will reduce the effectiveness and power of your swing.

 

In summary golf and Pilates share many principles such as correct breathing, alignment, concentration, centering and flow. A certified Pilates instructor will be able to teach you how to implement those principles into your golf and see results such as improved performance and reduced risk of injuries.


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