Pilates to improve your golf swing
Can Pilates improve your golf swing?
When you think of golf, you don’t naturally think of Pilates, but this form of exercise is golf’s perfect companion. Whether you’re a professional player or like to enjoy a few holes at the weekend, you can gain a lot from making Pilates a part of your exercise regime.
Golf and Pilates actually have a lot in common. Golf requires fluid motion, precision and power whilst the Pilates principles focus on precision, control, centering, flow of motion and proper breathing.
The golf swing is a complex asymmetrical movement that puts compressive forces, approximately 8 times a player’s bodyweight at the moment of impact. The sport requires players to repeat the same movement, causing some muscles to become overused and others to weaken, leading to muscle imbalances in the body. Approximately 60% of all amateur golfers’ experience injuries playing the game, and 50% of pros retire because of golf-related injuries.
Pilates is ideal for golfers as it helps to keep the body in balance and free from injury. But that is not the only benefit, by improving strength and flexibility it can improve your game too, which is why pro golfers are finding Pilates an essential component to their training.
How can Pilates improve your game?
Through Pilates a player can optimise posture and develop mechanics, leading to a smoother and more powerful golf swing. When the body has the perfect balance between mobility and stability, less strain is put on the joints and muscles.
Pilates strengthens the core, builds up the back muscles, elongates and aligns the spine and strengthens the hip stabilisers. It also strengthens deeper muscle groups, which are key to controlling joint stability and movement.
Having a strong core helps to improve hip rotation for more distance and power, allowing the shoulders a wider range of motion and a more optimal golf swing. Muscle conditioning is an essential part of injury prevention, allowing golfers to play for longer periods without injury, particularly in the lower back.
Flexibility and control
Pilates improves joint mobility of the shoulders, hips and spine. This increased range of movement allows the golfer to move effortlessly from squatting on the green to twisting the body in a drive or simply bending over to pick up the ball. Having optimal range of motion of the shoulders and trunk can improve a player’s backswing and follow-though.
The muscle imbalances that occur from the repetitive one-sided motions used in a golf swing commonly leads to injuries of the low back, shoulders, elbows and wrists. Pilates is used worldwide by physios as an invaluable tool in the treatment of injury. Modifications can be made to Pilates’ exercises allowing the injured area to be rested, whilst still challenging and strengthening other parts of the body. Breaking down the mechanics of the swing and the contributing factors that may have led to the injury can help prevent the symptoms from recurring.
The emphasis on diaphragmatic breathing in Pilates can help improve a golfer’s concentration during their game. It can help them to relax through their swing and control precise movements such as those needed in putting.
Don’t let injury keep you from the pastime you love. Use Pilates to rebalance your body, strengthen your core and improve your flexibility. Why not book a class today to see how Pilates can improve your golf game.
For more info:
Corey, K. & Corey, P. W (2006). Create a pilates conditioning program for golfers: this conditioning program can reduce the risk of injuries, improve a golf swing and enhance balance and stability. IDEA Health and Fitness, Vol. 3, Issue 8. p56+
~ Sophie Lax. Physiotherapist and Pilates instructor