Pilates Corrective Exercises for Golfers, Part 2

Sep 14, 2007

View Part 1: Pilates Corrective Exercises for Golfers

From a biomechanical perspective, the golf swing is a complex and unnatural movement that works the whole body—but not in symmetrical patterning. Addressing physical limitations through a series of Pilates exercises can help create symmetry and coordination, improve muscular endurance and increase range of motion. Pilates exercises establish coordinated muscle-firing by retraining core muscles, including deep stabilizers, hip flexors and extensors, hip abductors and adductors, and spinal flexors, extensors and rotators.

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 golf 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.

Correcting Physical Faults
These are some of the most common faults in a golfer’s swing:

• backswing sway
• chicken winging
• reverse spine angle or dipping
• lower body lunge
• casting
• poor swing rotation

Each of these faults has a negative effect on the golf swing and a corresponding physical cause. Assessing each problem and defining its cause will enable wellness professionals to create a program of corrective exercises to improve the golf swing and reduce injury. The second part of this two-part Pilates for golf series details how to help correct lower body lunge, casting and poor swing rotation.

Lower Body Lunge
Lower body lunge occurs when the body is not in the proper position at the moment of impact. The body lunges past the ball in an attempt to transfer weight quickly to the target side. This incorrect positioning turns the club face downward, which results in the ball either being smothered or not getting off the ground.

This problem can be corrected by strengthening the golfer’s hips and legs. Include lunges for the quadriceps, prone or standing leg curls for the hamstrings, and adduction and abduction exercises for the hips.

Casting
When a golfer prematurely uncocks the wrists, casting occurs. This action brings the club head ahead of the hands, topping or smothering the ball and resulting in a loss of power on impact. Casting is generally caused by weakness in the wrists and forearms.

This limitation can be helped a great deal with the proper Pilates emphasis. Elbow injuries are prevalent among amateur golfers, and strengthening exercises for the wrist and forearm can protect this joint and prevent strain. Wrist curls, reverse wrist curls, radial flexion and ulnar flexion are indicated for golfers who are prone to casting.

Poor Swing Rotation
A limited range of motion in the torso causes poor swing rotation, one of the most common physical faults in the golf swing. Swing power comes from the turn of the body.
A program of core strength exercises and flexibility movements should include exercises for the rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, erector spinae, hip flexors, hamstrings, pectorals, deltoids and internal and external rotators

 

corrective Pilates exercise

prone hamstring lifts, curls and extensions

View Example

physical fault

lower body lunge

benefits

Strengthening hamstrings, buttocks and hip adductors will help maintain proper body positioning at moment of impact.

alignment

Lying prone on floor, bend knees and place ring between ankles. Place hands on floor, palms down, and relax head on hands. Pull navel to spine, and press hips to floor. (Spine should be elongated, not arched.) Keep knees bent at a 90-degree angle, and maintain enough resistance on ring to hold it horizontally to floor.

Pilates movement sequence

segment 1: lifts
step 1: Inhale as you lift legs up from floor.
step 2: Exhale, and squeeze ring.
step 3: Inhale, and release squeeze.
step 4: Exhale, and lower legs.

segment 2: curls
step1: Inhale as you lift legs up from floor.
step 2: Exhale, squeeze ring and curl heels toward buttocks.
step 3: Inhale, and uncurl back to 90-degree position.

segment 3: extensions
step 1: Inhale as you lift legs up from floor and squeeze ring.
step 2: Exhale, and extend legs (straightening them behind you) a few inches above floor.
step 3: Inhale, and curl back to 90-degree position.
step 4: Exhale, and lower legs to floor.

repetitions

segment 1: Perform 10 repetitions.
segment 2: Perform 5 repetitions, then release legs down and perform a second set.
segment 3: Perform 5 repetitions.

trainer’s notes

Ensure that pelvis remains neutral and does <I>not<I> rotate as you lift hip bones from floor. Be sure to maintain active core muscle alignment through each segment of these Pilates exercises.

 

corrective Pilates exercise

finger flicks

View Example

physical fault

casting

benefits

This simple movement improves circulation in arms and hands, while also strengthening forearm muscles.

alignment

Stand with feet hip distance apart. Bring hands in front of body, and make loose fists by rolling up fingers with thumb on top.

Pilates movement sequence

step 1: Strongly flick fingers open as if trying to remove something sticky. Movement should be so strong that you can hear a sound as you flick fingers apart. Perform 10 flicks.
step 2: Continue flicking as you bring arms up in front of body to chest level. Perform another 10 flicks.
step 3: Continue flicking as you bring arms above head. Perform another 10 flicks.
step 4: Continue flicking as you lower arms out to sides of body at shoulder level. Perform another 10 flicks.
step 5: Continue flicking as you lower arms in front of body to starting position. Perform another 10 flicks.

repetitions

Perform 1 set. As you progress, do 1 set, then reverse pattern and repeat.

trainer’s notes

Make sure clients keep wrists straight and stable so movement passes through center of wrist. Elbow should remain soft, not locked or overly bent. Breathing pattern matches movement: inhaling for 2 flicks and exhaling for 2 flicks.

 

corrective Pilates exercise

twist with arm pulls and saw

Example

physical fault

poor swing rotation

benefits

This rotational stretch works core muscles for improved flexibility and core strength.

alignment

Sit on mat with legs extended out in front of you. Open legs to V position, slightly wider than hips.

Pilates movement sequence

segment 1: twist with arm pulls
step 1: Inhale, and lift arms out to sides of body at shoulder level.
step 2: Exhale as you flex feet and twist torso to target side. Keep both hips anchored to floor, and arms straight at shoulder level.
step 3: Press arms back with 10 small presses, inhaling and exhaling with each press.
step 4: Twist torso into center position with full breath.
Repeat on nontarget side.

segment 2: the saw
step 1: Inhale as you lift arms out to sides of body at shoulder level.
step 2: Exhale, flex feet and twist torso to target side. Keep both hips anchored to floor, and arms straight at shoulder level. Inhale, and lift nontarget arm toward ceiling. Round your back, exhale, and stretch arm across body, reaching arm past opposite foot. Keep both hips anchored to mat. Bring target arm behind body.
step 3: Stretch forward, sliding nontarget hand past foot in “sawing” motion. Perform 10 “sawing” movements. Inhale and exhale with each movement.
step 4: Round back to sit up, and lift arms out at shoulder level. Twist to center position. Repeat exercise on other side.

repetitions

segment 1: Repeat exercise 2 times.
segment 2: Perform 2 sets.

trainer’s notes

Ensure that clients keep both hips pressed to mat, and abdominal muscles pulled inward and upward. Make sure head follows line of spine. If clients have difficulty sitting tall with legs straight, have them bend one leg, then stretch over straight leg and gradually straighten bent knee to increase stretch into hamstrings.

Pilates Corrective Exercises for Golfers, Part 1

References & Resources
Chek, P., 1999. The Golf Biomechanic’s Manual C.H.E.K. Institute
Cochran, S., 2006. What should I know about biomechanics of the golf swing? EzineArticles.com
Corey, K., 2006. Total Core Fitness. United States: Barron’s Educational Series.
Draovitch, P., & Westcott, W., 1961. Complete Conditioning for Golf. United States: Human Kinetics.
Horowitz, S., 1999. Golf Fitness. Maryland: You Can Be Fit, Inc.
Kochno, T., 2004 – 2005. Golf faults: Golf swing faults and resulting injuries, Florida, Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation International.
Kochno, T., 2004 – 2005. Swing mechanics: Overview of golf swing mechanics, Florida, Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation International.
Mann, S., 2002. Golf Performance and Pilates, Biomechanics of the Golf Swing: Everything from the Ground Up. Pilates Center of Naples
Martin, L., 2006. Why Are you Still A Hacker? Understand the Purpose of the Golf Swing: The Fundamentals of Ball Contact and Flight Path. lakeside press.com.
Metz, J., 1999. Managing golf injuries, The Physician and SportsMedicine, 27, No. 7.
National Golf Foundation, www.ngf.org
Pedersen, M., 2006. A golf-specific workout will energize your golf game, EzineArtcles.com
Shamus, E., & Shamus, J., 2001. Sports Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation. New York: McGraw –Hill.
Simpson, R., & Kaspriske, R., 2004. The anatomy of power, golfdigest.com.
Simpson, R., & Kaspriske, R., 2004. The body’s prime movers, golfdigest.com.
Wolkodoff, N., 1997. Physical Golf. United States: Kickpoint Press.

Topics

Pilates

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