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How Pilates can improve your game of golf

Pilates is based on the principle of strengthening your core muscles. As in the game of golf, your swing should originate from your centre or your core.

Strengthening your core will result in improved hip rotation, range of motion in the shoulders and hips and back stability which dramatically improves the power and accuracy of the game of golf you play.

Golfers are constantly moving their bodies in such a way that they are overworking certain areas of their bodies and others become weaker. This causes an imbalance in the body.

The shoulder, biceps, forearm and upper back will develop more on a Golfer's dominant side. The muscles of these areas are usually much tighter while the weaker side is more flexible. This affects Golfers legs, hips, arms, shoulders and lower back, thus negatively affecting your game. You might not even know why you just can't seem to get your swing right. The risk of injury, fatigue shorter drives and inaccuracy could all be eliminated through Pilates training specifically for golfers.

pilates for golfers improves golf swingPilates results in a stronger and more balanced core which assists in the following:

  • Increased concentration and focus
  • Elongate and align the Spine for better stability
  • Increase overall flexibility, strength and balance
  • Increase range of motion in the hips and shoulders
  • Build up even back muscles eliminating back pain

which in turn directly benefits your game by:

  • Attain an optimal backswing and follow-through with increased range of motion in shoulders
  • More powerful drive with further distance by improving hip and torso flexibility
  • Increase the power of your drive with a stronger and bigger hip rotation
  • Smoother, more powerful swing attributed to evening out and strengthening of back muscles
  • Increase balance and alignment during rotation of your swing
  • Increased accuracy due to focus and ability to hold a stance for longer periods of time.

Pilates will assist the Golfer to hit the ball further, straighter and more accurately with less chance of injury. Because the game of golf requires one to use the same movements, muscles are overworked or under developed and therefore causes imbalances in the body. These imbalances lead to injuries, back problems and limited ability to improve your game.

Golfers such as Tiger Woods, Ernie Else and Gary Player are all Pilates enthusiasts as Pilates is perfect for golf.

Pilates training can be used to assess and correct the following faults (amongst many others):

Posture:

  1. Upper Cross Syndrome
  2. Lower Cross Syndrome
  3. Golf Swing:
  4. Backswing Sway
  5. Chicken Winging
  6. Reverse Spine Angle or Dipping
  7. Lower Body Lunge
  8. Casting
  9. Poor Swing Rotation

Perfect Correcting Posture:

Individual specific Pilates exercise routines will be desiged to address incorrect posture. This is general will drastically improve your game of golf.

1. The S-Posture: Lower Cross Syndrome (LCS)

The S-Posture as it is know is characterised by:

  • a tight lower back
  • tight hip flexors and
  • weak glutes which leads to
  • excessive arching of the lower back,
  • a protruding abdomen and
  • a flat bum.

In Pilates terms, we define the S-Posture as Lordosis, where the lumber spine has an anterior tilt. This means that the lumber spine and hip flexors are short and weak while the abs and glutes are weak meaning there is decreased and limited spinal range of motion. This leads to lower back pain and injuries.

This posture will negatively affect your game of golf in the following ways:

  • less power and accuracy
  • failure to stabilise correct posture during your swing
  • restriction of proper torso rotation

Corrective Measures: improve pelvic mobility and core strengthening.

2. The C-Posture: Upper Cross Syndrome (UCS)

The C-Posture as it is known is characterised by:

  • a tight upper back
  • with which leads to
  • an excessively humped upper back (sometimes all the way to the tail bone)

In Pilates terms, we define the C-Posture as Kyphosis, where the upper thoracic spine is excessively humped in a posterior tilt. The lower traps, serratus anterior and deep neck flexors are usually long and extended while the pectorals, levator scapula and upper traps are short and tight.

This posture will negatively affect you game in the following ways:

  • Inability to hold position during swing
  • rotation to the backswing is seriously restricted
  • less power and accuracy

Corrective Measures: improve shoulder stabilisation and stretching of upper back.

Both Lower and Upper Cross Syndrome can be corrected through proper Pilates training using specific exercises modified specifically for Golfers.

Perfecting the Swing:

The Golf Swing is not a natural movement; it is a complex movement incorporating the entire body. The fundamental requirements for a great swing include; accuracy, precision, power and range of motion. The way in which the ball is hit is directly related to the physical limitations of the golfer.

A good golf swing requires that the golfer has full range of motion and flexibility of the:

  • Spine and Ribs
  • External Shoulder Rotators
  • Adductors and Abductors
  • Forearms
  • Wrists

Trunk Stabilisation originates from the:

  • Lats
  • Abdominals
  • Erector Spinae

Balance throughout the duration of the Swing is maintained by the:

  • Adductors
  • Abductors

Power origintes from:

  • the Hips

Weak hip rotation will lead to the lower back area taking all the strain causing back pain.

In order to perfect the Golf Swing, one must address all physical faults which adversely affect the Swing.

Assessments are done to determine posture, flexibility of all four extremities, muscular development and balance. The better one can control their extremeties the better the Golfer's ability becomes to direct the ball.

1. Backswing Sway:

The Backswing Sway occurs when the hands of the Golfer move too far away from the body. This will pull the torso during the backswing causing excessive lateral movement. This is due to poor balance and poor upper torso rotation.

This fault is often characterised by a 'slice' or a 'hook' shot.

Corrective Measures: improve balance and upper torso rotation with pelvic stabilisation.

2. Chicken Winging:

Chicken Winging occurs when the 'non-target' elbow is lifted on the backswing which in turn changes the angle of the golf club. Chicken Winging is caused by instability of the shoulders.

This fault is often characterised by 'smothering' the ball or hitting the top of the ball.

Corrective Measures: Stabilisation of the shoulders and deltoids.

3. Reverse Spine Angle or Dipping:

Dipping occurs when the golfer's body weighted is shifted to the front foot resulting in sliding of the hips. This is caused by inability to stabilise the hips. The hips needs to rotate and not shift weight from foot to foot.

This fault is often characterised by the ball not reaching desired distance.

Corrective Measures: Improving Hip stabilisation and strengthening of the pelvis, rectus abdominus, obliques and hip flexors.

4. Lower Body Lunge:

Lower Body Lunge occurs when the posture has been lost at the moment of ball impact. The body lunges passed the ball and weight is then shifted again. This then changes the position of the golf club as the ball is hit.

The Lower Body Lunge is characterised by smothering the ball or the ball not gaining flight.

Corrective Measures: increasing leg and hip strength.

5. Casting:

Casting occurs when the golfer uncocks his wrists prematurely. The cause of casting is weak forearms and wrists.

This fault is often characterised by 'topping' of the ball or smothering.

Corrective Measures: strengthening of the wrists and forearms.

6. Poor Swing Rotation:

Poor Swing Rotation occurs when a golfer has poor torso rotation. Lack of mobility in torso rotation results in lack of power as the power originates from the hips.

Corrective Measures: increase overall flexibility and hip flexor mobility.