Golf - Part 3: Pilates Exercises to Improve Golf Performance and Reduce Injuries
The first two blogs, “Pilates to Improve Golf Performance” and “Golf and the Risk of Low Back Injury” highlight the important physical characteristics and skills needed to improve golf performance and reduce the risk of injury. This blog will give examples of a few Pilates exercises targeted for these specific characteristics and skills important for golf.
Spinal rotation: This exercise improves flexibility of spinal rotation range of motion. Pulling against the spring resistance of the Pilates reformer improves the strength of the muscles that produce spinal rotation. Muscle balance is improved as this exercise is performed facing both directions. Kneeling on the moving carriage of the reformer challenges balance. Maintaining a pure rotation, without flexing or extending the spine and without side bending the spine helps alignment, proprioception (our ability to know where our body is in space) and coordination. Just as in golf, some muscles are acting as stabilizers, some muscles are producing the movement and the posture and alignment is important throughout.
Hip strength and flexibility: This exercise improves the strength and flexibility in the hips as well as teaches the core to stabilize the spine and pelvis. The movement should be symmetrical around the midline of the body, improving muscle balance and alignment. There are various exercises that can be done with the feet in straps to emphasize more hip flexion and extension, or more side-to-side motion (abduction and adduction), or more rotation.
Shoulder Strength and Flexibility: This exercise improves the strength and flexibility of the shoulders. It also uses the core muscles to keep a strong upright posture. The head and spine stay still while the arms move. The cross-legged sitting position opens up the hips and can be modified to a taller box for those less flexible or flat on the mat for those that are more flexible.
The next blog will address “Pilates for the Less Athletic Golfer: Special Considerations”.