Golf - Part 1: Pilates to Improve Golf Performance
Golf is a very popular sport. It requires strength, flexibility, balance and incredible coordination to time the sequential motions of the golf swing. The skills needed for golf parallel the benefits of Pilates. Specifically, golf requires:
Concentration – one of the guiding principles of Pilates is concentration. Each Pilates exercise is done with deep focus and concentration to master the movement. This mind body focus increases our sense of proprioception – our ability to know where our body is in space. This sense is crucial for all the components of a golf swing from setup, backswing, downswing to follow through and also to make this swing repeatable.
Strength – all Pilates exercises are initiated from the deep muscles of the core, strengthening the core. The arms and legs strengthen more efficiently as they work from a stable core. Golf requires strength to generate the high forces of the golf swing as well as to make the muscles durable enough to withstand those high forces without sustaining injury.
Flexibility - Pilates exercises include both static and dynamic stretch. Static stretch increases the end point of our range of movement. Dynamic stretch teaches us how to access and use that range of motion during movement. Pilates exercises also work on segmental motion of the spine, improving spine flexibility that is so important for golf.
Balance - Pilates exercises are progressed to unstable positions that challenge and improve balance.
Coordination – three other guiding principles of Pilates are: control, precision and flow. Each movement in Pilates is performed in a rhythmical, controlled manner, moving from a specific place to a specific place. Similar to golf, where the setup position should be precisely the same for each golf swing and the swing should be controlled, rhythmic and have a precise swing plane.
Cross training with Pilates can improve these skills leading to improved golf performance. The next blog “Golf Part II: Golf and the Risk of Low Back Injury” will discuss the factors contributing to low back pain in golfers.
1. Peak Pilates System Manual, Peak Body Systems Inc, 2008.