Pilates exercises to improve your game
By guest blogger Linda Segerstam, founder and Director of The Intelligent Core and teacher of pilates for golf
Golf is a great sport for overall fitness. As we know, the golf swing is complex and getting it right requires a lot of skill and precision from our bodies. The weight of the club can tone up your arms and shoulders, grounding yourself can work your thighs and glutes and the rotation through your swing can engage and tone your core. Increasing body awareness, flexibility and core strength through Pilates can improve your game as well as result in leaner muscles, better co-ordination and help keep you injury-free. To get started try these exercises and repeat each 5-10 times.
Unlocking your hips
#1 Pelvic tilt – mobility and strength in the lower back and hips are extremely import for golfers to avoid locking the hips or getting lower back pain.
Pelvic tilt can be done in different starting positions, standing, four-point kneeling or high kneeling but we will start the exercise lying down on the floor with the knees bent, feet hip width apart and arms by the side of the body. Imagine a sponge under your lower back and tilt your lower back gently to the floor to press the sponge and then return back to a ‘neutral spine’*. Try to keep the upper body still.
#2 Spine Curls – opens up the hip joints, works the glutes and mobilises the spine.
If you have pelvic back pain go straight to #3. Spine curls start with the pelvic tilt, then lift the tailbone and let your spine peel of the mat, keeping your shoulder blades down. Take a deep breath in at the top and then allow the spine to travel back down to the floor breathing out. Move one vertebrae at a time if you can, bringing your spine gently back to the floor.
Bridge starts with a ‘neutral spine’*, breathe in and feel the muscles tighten and support the spine, then breathe out to lift the pelvis straight up keeping your belly button in. The ribs and hips come up at the same time pressing evenly into your heels as you rise. Breathe in at the top then breathe out to lower the pelvis and ribcage at the same time back to neutral position on the mat.
#4 Hip rolls with feet down – training golf swing rotation with gentle core activation
Start lying down on the floor with the knees bent, feet and knees glued together, arms by the side of the body. Initiate the movement by allowing one hip to lift from the mat moving the legs to one side, one foot will lift off the floor as the feet are glued together. You are keeping your shoulder blades down on the mat so your knees will stay in the air. Keep rolling the hips and moving the legs from side to side.
#5 Cat – more glute activation and power through impact in golf swing
Begin the Cat on all fours, head in line with the spine, spine in neutral, hands directly under the the shoulders and knees under hips, imagine a 7-iron touching your head and tail. Spread your fingers wide. Breathe in to start drawing your belly button towards your spine tucking your tail under as your buttocks gently engage. Allow the head to move forward rounding the upper spine. Breathe out bring your head and tail back to the starting position.
*Neutral spine means that the ribcage and tailbone are in contact with the mat with just a natural curve or small space in the lumbar/lower spine.