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
• 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.
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
References & Resources
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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.
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...