Pilates is an exercise program that focuses on building core strength, flexibility, stability and balance. Pilates master teacher Kathy Corey and Dr. Paul Corey of the Idea Health and Fitness Association website say that makes Pilates an ideal form of exercise for golfers. The authors explain that a golf swing is a complicated movement that “applies compressive forces approximately eight times one’s body weight” at the moment of impact. Pilates exercises not only can improve your golf game by increasing your strength and flexibility, but they also can help keep you free of injury. Studies cited by the Coreys show that about 60 percent of amateur golfers get hurt playing golf and about 50 percent of pros retire because of golf-related injuries.
“Pilates Digest” list three basic exercises to help your golf game. Pelvic tilts increase mobility in your pelvis, hips and lumber spine. Lie on your back with knees bent, arms at your side. Exhale and tilt your pelvis back until your lower back touches the ground. Then inhale and tilt your pelvis toward your upper back, forming a small arch in your back. Do 20 to 30 repetitions.
The bridge exercise strengthens your glute muscles, important in increasing the power and stability of the golf swing. Your pelvis, lower back and core will be strengthened and stabilized by this exercise as well. The basic bridge exercise consists of lying on your back with knees bent. Inhale and lift your hips into a bridge position. Exhale as you lift one foot off the floor without dropping your hips. Inhale and lower your foot to the ground. Alternate legs and work your way up to a bridge with your leg pointed toward the ceiling.
Side Lying Leg Circles
The purpose of this exercise is to increase mobility of the hip joint, which will improve your hip turn on the backswing and downswing and reduce lateral motion. Lie on your side with your supporting arm extended over your head. Inhale and lift your top leg as far away from your bottom leg as possible without losing stability in the pelvis. Exhale and circle the top leg while you body stays as steady as possible. Repeat eight to 10 times, reverse the direction of the circle and repeat eight to 10 times, then switch to the other leg and perform the same routine.
The Ideafit site lists a number of Pilates exercises that can be used for specific swing flaws. For example, if your body sways on your backswing, there’s an exercise to help you increase the rotation of the torso and improve your balance. If you lunge at the ball with your lower body instead of unwinding your hips, there’s an exercise to strengthen your hamstrings, buttocks and hip abductors to to get your body into the right position at the moment of impact.