From the outside, golf appears to be a leisure sport. It offers moments to take in the scenery, enjoy your company and a quiet course. What many men and women don’t know is that golf is a very intense athletic sport. It may not cause players to sweat like a football player, but the torque required to complete a golf swing is just as intense as that of a baseball player swinging for the fences. Each swing requires a full body connection, which can often lead to minor aches.
The repetitive nature of golf is often regarded by personal trainers as the source of many player’s complaints of sore joints and muscles. When your body is forced to continually replicate a move of such force, it is common for sections of your kinetic chain to develop a series of opposing strengths and weaknesses. Each swing, each putt requires a golfer to use their core. Every golf function relies upon the athlete’s ability to stabilize and mobilize their central joints including their shoulder girdles, pelvic area and lumbar spine. Many golfers are now turning to Pilates to improve their core functions, and in doing so they improve their golf games.
Many of the muscles that are attached to your spine are also attached to your pelvis. Pilates specifically targets this area of muscles to increase each practioner’s control of their hips and stomach muscles. Having a strong support system of strengthened pelvic muscles often provides back pain relief and protection from injury. With Pilates, golfers can elongate and align their spine, as well as improve their stability. Much of your stabilization muscles are in your core, and as we age, our stability tends to degenerate. Golf is a sport played for life, and without proper stability, your game and your health can suffer.
Not only will Pilates improve the strength of your core, but it also improves your the flexibility in your hip rotation and your shoulder range of motion. When applied to the golf swing, both of these functions are an integral part of movement. Lacking proper hip rotation, a golfer cannot move through the ball leading to a push. Without shoulder mobility, a swing will be limited in its take-back and can result in shorter driving distances.
When you have muscle imbalances, your entire body can be affected. Massage can often loosen tight muscles, and eliminate some of the stress. Pilates helps to correct this error by creating an equal frame of strength. A strong and even core can improve a golfer’s driving distance and direction. A stronger hip turn, when in full control, will give a golfer a more powerful rotation, which is essential for hitting long distances. A golfer can power their arms through a shot all day, but it is not until the torque of their center combines forces with their arms that they will hit the ball greater lengths.
Not only will a swing feel better after the help of Pilates, but it will also look better. Muscle imbalance can lead to jerking or weak follow-throughs. An evenly conditioned core and back helps to create a smoother swing. When the body works in unison, like Pilates prepares it for, a golfer will feel less strain from hitting and will be able to play for longer periods of time.
Pilates can not only help improve your golf game, but it will help prevent future injuries. It is no surprise that many professional golfers have begun to focus on their core functions, continuing to improve not only their athletic ability but their health and longevity.