Golf - Part 4: Pilates for the Less Athletic Golfer: Special Considerations
Golf is a unique sport in that many golfers do not participate in any other physical activity and would otherwise not be considered athletic. As well, golf is a sport that many people participate in well into retirement. While generally considered a low intensity activity, golf does require short bursts of high intensity activity that requires significant strength, flexibility, balance and coordination. If the thought of swinging kettle balls and lifting dumbbells makes you cringe, then Pilates may be a good alternative for you to condition your body for the physical demands of golf. There are some unique aspects of Pilates that make it well suited for individuals that do not like the high intensity of a typical gym workout.
Supportive position: Many Pilates exercises are performed lying down.
Low repetitions: Quality vs. quantity is stressed; most exercises are only 10 repetitions or less.
Spring resistance versus weights: Pilates exercises are performed with spring resistance. In some exercises springs can provide assistance initially and we lighten them to make an exercise harder as progress is made, making the muscles work harder to stabilize. In some exercises, springs are made heavier to make an exercise harder, adding resistance. Either way, the intensity of the exercise is generally lower than a traditional weight work out where the goal is to lift the maximum amount for the desired repetitions.
Whole body position is emphasized: In Pilates, the alignment and posture of the whole body is important in every exercise. The postural and core muscles work to stabilize the body and this is the way they should be used in every day activities. In a traditional weight routine, one muscle group is isolated and worked at a time. But because a heavy weight is being used, other parts of the body often are recruited to help. For example, in an isolated bicep curl, the trunk and upper arm should stay still and the elbow should bend, lifting the weight. However, it is common to see a person with a heavy weight shifting their upper back and swinging the upper arm to help lift the weight.
Modifications: Pilates equipment is very adaptable. Exercises can be modified to make it easier or harder. For example, this exercise is designed to improve side bending flexibility as well as core strength and shoulder girdle stability. These pictures show one version and a modification for clients with less flexibility to start.
Consider Pilates as an exercise method to cross train for golf to either improve performance or reduce your risk of injury.
The next blog, “Golf Part V: Modifying the Golf Swing for Low Back Pain” will discuss modifications to allow golfers with low back pain to continue playing.