Golf requires a balance between both mobility and stability. It involves muscular strength, flexibility, and concentration.
While not a high impact sport, golf can cause injuries due to its repetitive movements and imbalances in the hips, lower back, shoulders and extremities, which can cause muscle strain or tears.
To face this challenge, many amateur and pro golfers alike have turned to Pilates because it is the perfect conditioning program for correcting imbalances, improving your game and preventing injury.
With an individualized plan on the Pilates apparatus or through mat work, professional Pilates instruction will include a focus on a mind-body connection and the strengthening of the core muscles, which are the deep abdominal, back and pelvic floor muscles, resulting in better posture whereby providing more efficient movement.
In strengthening and lengthening all of the body’s musculature, Pilates will also teach you how to incorporate spinal and pelvic alignment, which is important because the motion of the pelvis contributes to not only the power in the golf swing, but the ability to control the movement as well.
Below are just a few Pilates exercises to help with pelvic stability and a tight back, all while engaging core muscles to initiate movement and breath to control the movement:
Bridge (pelvic stability): Position your body on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground no further than hip distance apart. Inhale, tighten your lower abdominals, squeeze your buttocks and raise your hips off the floor while maintaining an aligned pelvis. Hold for up to three seconds then exhale, slowly lowering your pelvis with control back to the floor one vertebra at a time. Repeat up to five times.
Spine Stretch (forward flexion): In a seated position with a straight back, lengthen your legs out in front, slightly wider than hip distance. Place your hands on your thighs with palms facing up. Sitting tall, inhale and tighten your lower abdominals lifting up and over your legs allowing your fingers and head to gently reach toward your feet just enough to feel a gentle spine stretch and exhale fully. Inhale, roll back up with control to a tall seated position with an emphasis on stacking your vertebrae one at a time. Repeat up to five times.
Swan (extension): Position your body lying on your stomach with a long neck out in front and your nose hovering just above the mat. Your arms are bent in toward your body with hands placed directly under your shoulders. Legs are straight behind you with all 10 toes on the mat and heals are together (for tight hips legs can be apart). Inhale, gently press into your hands drawing your abdominals in and up and imagine a golf ball in front of your nose as you slowly roll the ball away lifting your body into extension. Think length, not height with your eyes looking beyond your mat, not up. Exhale gently and fully as you lower your body down to the mat with control. Repeat up to five times.
Golf requires both practice and patience and primarily focuses on balance, focus, power, performance and form. Pilates also requires practice and patience while incorporating the six Pilates principles into every single movement: concentration, control, centering, breath, flow and precision. Pilates can help prevent injuries while making you feel better and make you stronger while improving your game.
Jenn Konin is a Pilates Instructor at Privé-Swiss Fitness, an award-winning, upscale, boutique fitness studio, located at 1587 Boston Post Road, Westbrook, 757 Boston Post Road, Madison and 57 Main Street, Ivoryton (coming soon); phone: 860-391-8735; website: www.priveswissfitness.com.