Golf requires muscular strength, joint flexibility, neuromuscular training and the perfect balance between mobility and stability.
With its focus on core strength, flexibility, stability and balance, Pilates is a great tool for conditioning golfers. This mind-body modality can improve a player’s golf swing and help prevent the types of injuries that plague both amateurs and professional golfers alike.
Golf injuries in amateurs are the result of overuse, poor swing mechanics and/or striking the ground with the club.
The most common sites for injury among amateur men are the low back, elbows, hands and wrists and shoulders. Amateur women golfers have the greatest occurrence of injuries in the elbows, followed by the low back, shoulders and hands and wrists
Although professional golfers tend to have fewer injuries than amateurs, they are not bulletproof. Because of the many hours that pros play each day, overuse is the culprit for 80% of their injuries; striking the ground and twisting the torso account for the remaining 20% (Metz 1999).
A good golf swing starts with a good base of support. Core muscles at the hips, pelvis and lumbar spine provide stability and allow for the transference of power to the legs, trunk and arms.
Both golf and Pilates are mind-body activities that share some of the same basic principles. Golf swing principles are fluid motion, precision, accuracy and power, whereas Pilates principles focus on control, concentration, centering, precision, flow of motion and proper breathing.
A golf pro can help correct a golfer’s technique by altering stance, grip and hip turn ratio. But the underlying fault in any golf swing is in the body itself. The way the ball is hit correlates to physical limitations, such as lack of flexibility, poor rotation, hip instability, general hip or leg weakness, shoulder girdle instability, weakness in the wrists and forearms, and poor core strength. Correcting the swing at the time of the swing will not improve the physical cause. The underlying limitations need to be addressed at their physical source, and the body needs to be retrained in order to improve the swing, prevent injury and increase overall performance.
Pilates exercises work to create muscle balance, flexibility, core alignment and proper spinal mechanics in both amateur and professional golfers. When muscle balance and core alignment are optimal, good motor programming results.
The practice of Pilates builds a flow of motion that lends ease and power to the golf game. Pilates, like golf, brings conscious control and focus to all movements. Only through this kind of centering can great benefits be achieved—both on the golf course and in the activities of daily living.
Submitted by: Wendy Haddad
Courtesy of: Kathy Corey and Paul W.Corey,MD