Pilates and Golf.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you might have heard of this popular combo. I must fully agree with the pairing. They both require the same skills: mental and physical conditioning from the inside, outward to the external. In other words, practicing how you respond to your surroundings.
Unfortunately, like in most things, there is no magic spell to make this happen. It requires mindful repetition of movements which allow you to change and control your own habits without over-thinking, no matter what the external challenges might bring. To be done properly, both golf and Pilates require precision controlled movements flowing outward from a strong and flexible center. One compliments the other indisputably. To create control and precision movements, one needs to be able to breathe properly, releasing tensing muscles, and quiets the active mind.
Living in the Midwest now, I realize golf is seasonal, as opposed to the West Coast, where it flourishes year round. So now is the ideal time to start prepping body and mind for the upcoming season. One movement every golfer needs to work on is twisting properly. My explanation here of twisting is pretty rudimentary, but this should convey the general concept. Keep in mind, just like with the English language, there are always exceptions to the rule.
In Pilates, the basic concept of twisting starts with the axis of the spine. Along the spine axis we have two attached bones structures we will focus on: the rib cage and the pelvis.
Twisting to stretch the back and strengthen the obliques, one must either A. Twist the rib cage, and stabilize the pelvis, or B. Twist the pelvis and stabilize the ribs. When we attempt a twist without stabilizing one part of the spine we often end up with back injuries. The twist of a follow through in your swing is only executed properly with the ability to stabilize ones pelvis even as it moves with the spine. Hmmm. tricky. But, possible. Think of a rubber band: In order to stretch it, one point must be fixed. If both points are unstable, it’s a wet noodle. If both points are fixed, it is rigid and doesn’t move.
So how do you practice twisting?
Warning: Be careful and do not over do any exercise. I recommend only 3 sets. (1 set is a twist in each direction). If you have any back pain, do not do this exercise until you consult a professional.
Sitting on a large balance ball. Both feet and knees about shoulder width apart. Arms can stretch out to the sides, rounded in front, OR you can place one hand on top of the other on top of the head. Twist the rib cage to the right, but DO NOT MOVE THE BALL OR YOUR LEGS. This will limit your twist, so that you are twisting from your obliques and not your hip flexors. Repeat to the left. The stability of your legs, backside and the ball is more important than the amount of rotation from your chest. As you twist, think of spiraling up towards the ceiling, rather than twisting back behind you. Remember: twist up, not back.
For the more advanced student, it can be done on the floor, keeping both legs glued together and the spine lifted up towards the ceiling.
Spring and Summer 2009 I will be giving several workshops on Pilates movement for golfers. Please check back under classes and workshops to find out when and where. If you are interested in hosting a Pilates and golf workshop, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org