Power Up Your Swing With Pilates

A golf pro can help correct a golfer's techniques by altering stance, grip and hip turn ratio. However, the underlying fault in any golf swing is in the body itself. A strong and flexible core is the best piece of equipment a golfer can bring to the game.

Why Is A Strong Core Important In Golf?

Many people confuse core muscles with abdominal muscles. In fact, core muscles refer to the set of inner muscles that hug your skeletal structure and organs. When your body learns to engage these inner and usually smaller set of muscles to perform a single movement, you utilise the whole body to execute the movement, thereby creating more explosive moves with less chances of injuries.

Golf is a game of asymmetry and multidirectional stresses. Inflexibility and muscle imbalances in certain body parts are compensated by excessive shearing in other areas leading to incorrect swings and injuries. A strong and flexible core not only helps you to accelerate your swing, it also helps you to bring the club to a stop safely and absorb the deceleration forces so that you do not get injured. Strong core endurance enables you to fire and brake again and again at a high rate of speed so that your swings can hold up all through the eighteen holes.

Pilates Builds Strong & Flexible Core

The key principles of Pilates focus on engaging core muscles to perform every movement, enhancing muscular endurance, improving spinal and joint mobility, reducing muscle imbalances and, promoting flexibility, balance and coordination. Pilates exercises retrain the muscle memory to create symmetry and coordination, improve muscular endurance and increase range of motion that benefits you in every game. On top of that, Pilates exercises also challenge your sense of balance and the result is stronger core muscles that help you to maintain stability and transfer power from muscle to muscle more effectively.

Heightened body awareness is the most important take away from your Pilates classes. Retraining the muscles involves repeated movements using the right set of muscles and how your current posture alignment affects your movements and of course, your game. When you put that to practise in your daily activities, you will find that engaging your core muscles comes naturally and you can utilise it easily in every game.

Pilates Helps You To Execute Explosive Swings

In order to swing the club efficiently and with maximum speed, you need to rotate your torso with a stable base as power is created from ground up. Renowned instructor Jim McLean's "X-Factor" swing theory states that if you turn your shoulder much further than your hips in the backswing, you will hit the ball farther. The bigger gap between the shoulder and hips, the more torque and resistance you create in the backswing and thus you can execute more explosive power in the downswing. However, most people may not be able to do that due to some common limitations. Let's take a look at how Pilates exercises can help you to overcome these limitations.

Hip, Knee & Spinal Mobility

The Hip Roll is an excellent warm up for the spine and getting the core to work in unison. It promotes spinal articulation and hip-knee mobility as well as to open up your hip flexors which are often shortened during the game.

I. Starting Position: Lie down facing the ceiling with heel hip distance apart on the Reformer foot bar, flexed feet.

II. Inhale to stay. Exhale to engage abdominals and curl tailbone up. Sequentially roll spine up bone by bone from tail to shoulder blade. Reformer carriage should not move throughout the roll up.

III. Inhale to stay and reach knees over the foot bar, thereby opening up the hip joint and working on the endurance of the hamstrings and glutes. Ensure that you are resting on your shoulder blades rather than the neck.

IV. Exhale to melt chest onto the Reformer and sequentially roll spine down from shoulder blades, mid back, lower back and finally the tailbone. Reformer should not move when you are rolling your spine down.

Limited Shoulder And Neck Rotation.

The side kneeling twist (circle rotation exercise) focuses on pelvic stability while challenging upper torso rotation. It is an excellent exercise to isolate torso rotation from pelvic rotation and to teach the body to get stability from the core while moving the upper torso. This allows you to rotate utilising your upper torso instead of excessive shoulder and neck rotation.

I. Starting Position: High kneeling on the Pilates Reformer with the Fitness Circle at the centre of your ribcage. Ensure that both butt and abs are engaged throughout the exercise to maintain a upright torso.

II. Inhale to stay and exhale to rotate the upper torso to the right. Ensure there is even pressure on both knee caps and maintain a square pelvis with slight rotation as you rotate upper torso.

III. Inhale to return to the starting position. All movements should be executed with control and without momentum in order to power up from the core.

Limited Range Of Side Bend

It is not good enough to promote spinal movement through flexion and extension. The spine is meant to move in all 360 degrees, therefore promoting side flexion is also important. Side flexion also stretches your latissimus dorsi and increases rotation range.

I. Starting Position: Seated on side of one hip with knees flexed. Bottom ankle should be hooked behind the top leg for stability. Torso is supported by one hand in line with hip and top arm is extended, palm up.

II. Inhale to lift pelvis towards ceiling and flex the side of the torso. Bottom knee kiss the Reformer and extend the top knee, creating a bow shape between the hand and the feet. Reach top arm overhead and stretch.

III. Exhale to bend knees and lower pelvis gently back to the starting position.

Both golf and Pilates are mind-body activities that share key basic principles. You will be surprised to discover that bad swings may be due to your posture or the way you sit or stand. Pilates exercises are crucial to every golf conditioning program. Improve golf results by incorporating Pilates in your golf conditioning training and you will see remarkable changes within a month.

Candice Chin is the founder of Pilates Fitness and was nominated by CozyCot as the Top 100 Most Loved Beauty Professionals in Singapore. Pilates Fitness provides effective, customised small classes that give you a toned body, increase your flexibility and enhance your sports performance. We are the first Pilates studio in Singapore providing Pilates for Weight Loss, Golfers, Runners, Athletes And Youth. Visit us @ http://www.PilatesFitness.com.sg

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