Pilates for golfers

IMPROVE DISTANCE AND ACCURACY, AND DECREASE CHANCE OF INJURY

By Angela Carstens, MCSP; Reg HCPC; BSc Physiotherapy, UCT (2007); OMT (2016)

During the game of golf, or on the range, golfers are constantly torqueing the body.  They are constantly twisting the spine to play a shot, or bending and squatting down to pick up balls or fix a divot.  This repetition of the same movements places certain muscles under strain, and this could lead to overuse injuries or weakness in other muscles. 

For golfers at any level, muscle imbalances with have an impact on swing, accuracy and power. As we age, we tend to stiffen up, and we lose range of movement in our hips, shoulders and spine. All of these minor changes negatively affect our game. Drives may be shorter and less accurate, and stamina may decrease. There is also an increased risk of strains, tears and overuse injuries.  

Pilates continuously improves body awareness, joint range of motion and conditioning, helping to keep our performance more consistent. Professional golfers around the world have chosen Pilates as a training tool to improve their game. 

Why does it work?

Pilates targets the deep stabilizing muscles in the body, building control and strength from the core, improving flexibility, alignment and balance. All golf shots start from the centre of the body, and throughout the golf swing there is considerable range of motion required in all joints - from the wrists, to the shoulders, spine, pelvis, hips and ankles. Exercises improve mobility, as well as control through range of motion, which helps to prevent injury and improve power, accuracy and performance.  It also helps to improve body awareness, general health and well-being.

Pilates helps you:

  • Improve spine strength and flexibility in all ranges of motion
  • Strengthen the back and deep abdominals
  • Improve pelvic stability and agility
  • Elongate and align the spine for better stability
  • Increase overall flexibility, strength, and balance
  • Increase range of motion in hips and shoulders
  • Enhance concentration through focused breathing

Benefits you’ll see in your game:

  • Improved distance and power due to increased shoulder and spine mobility
  • An optimal backswing and follow-through with increased range of motion in spine,  shoulders and hips
  • Stronger hip rotation and pelvic stability for greater power throughout swing
  • A smoother and more powerful swing due to improved control through range leading to greater accuracy and precision
  • Improved balance 
  • Increased endurance – suddenly 18 holes feels like 9!
  • Decreased pain during your game!

Try this at home:

Hip rolls: - for improved spine and hip mobility and gentle core activation

Position: 

On the back, with feet and knees bent, feet on the floor. Legs glued together. Arms by the side.

Exercise:

Rotate the legs to one side, allowing the opposite hip and knee to lift off the mat. 

Keep shoulders on the mat as the spine rotates. Gently roll hips side to side, and notice how the movement becomes easier with repetition.

Repetitions:

10 x to the left and right.

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