Do you want to improve your golf swing while at the same time prevent injuries, particularly to your back?
Pilates is a form of exercise that teaches breathing techniques, balance, coordination, strength and flexibility. It makes its practitioners far more aware of their bodies while also promoting strength and flexibility, three critical components of the golf game.
During a round of golf you are repeatedly bending over the ball and twisting your body in one direction. This results in the same muscles being over-used, and the delicate balance of these muscles being upset. The shoulders, neck, hips and feet are all vulnerable, but it is the lumbar spine which takes the greatest toll. Pilates works because it restores the balance, re-aligning the body and encouraging natural, normal movement patterns. By targeting the deep postural muscles, Pilates builds up strength from the inside out. The key is learning to engage your stabilizing muscles which create a strong center from which you move. These are your transversus abdominis and your pelvic floor muscles.
These deep abdominal muscles are used with every movement in Pilates. It requires considerable concentration to isolate the stabilizers. You also need to learn how to align your body correctly, to breathe efficiently and to be aware of unwanted tension creeping into your body. You have to watch out for 'cheating mechanisms' where the wrong muscles are used to achieve movements. With Pilates we aim to make the right muscles do the work. It is the quality of your movements that count, not the quantity. You need to be 'thoughtful' and focused.
Pilates uses apparatus specifically designed to increase spinal range of motion, distributing forces of rotation evenly throughout the spine. This does two important things for the golfer. One, it decreases the excessive force often centralized in the low back, often the cause of debilitating back pain. Two, it increases a golfer's ability to access movement that exists, but due to bad habits is not accessible. The new motion provides the golfer with increased range, speed, and agility, all essential for that competitive edge or just an enjoyable round of golf.
Rocco Mediat hurt his back at the 2001 British Open. The ensuing time off was a blessing, because it inspired Mediate to radically change his workout routine. After years of lifting heavy metal, he has ditched the weights and begun doing Pilates, a non impact strengthening workout he heard about from his wife, Linda. "It keeps me loose, keeps me fresh, keeps me strong," he says.
" Rocco is very loose. No matter whether he's shooting 80 or 60, he's still the same." -Tiger Woods