Pilates for Golf Swing Around Your Spine

You have, no doubt, heard the term “swing around your spine”.

The term refers to the ability to keep the spine angle steady relative to the ground as the golf club swings around the body.  Pilates is one of the best training techniques to give you the ability to keep your posture during your golf swing and unwind around your spine for more distance and accuracy.

What does it take to perform this fundamental move?

-Flexibility in the spine, hips and shoulders
-Muscular strength in the rotators of the spine and hips
-Neuromuscular coordination to control your posture

The first is flexibility in the thoracic (upper) and lumbar (lower) spine.  Inflexibility in the thoracic spine is common in individuals that sit at a computer all day.  Inflexibility increases with age.  If you already have some rounding in your upper back and your shoulders tend to slump forward, your thoracic spine and your golf swing will benefit from the restorative nature of Pilates exercise.

If the thoracic spine is “stiff”, the lumbar spine (the more flexible of the two) has to work harder.  This can contribute to low back pain, particularly if the low back muscles are weak already.  Increasing rotational flexibility of the entire spine will give you a more athletic swing, and allow you to move more freely in every day life.

Decreased range of motion in the shoulders and hips can also prevent a full turn.

Pilates strengthens and lengthens the small muscles of the shoulders (rotator cuff) and hips to improve flexibility and protect against injury. Pilates increases lower body strength in the quadriceps and glute muscles. Learning to rotate, rather than sway, the hips provides a more consistent release through the ball.

Building a strong core of abdominal muscles provides power for the turn.  The six-pack abdominal muscle (rectus abdominis) plays no role in spinal rotation; you need to build the internal and external obliques.  Exercises employing rotation, lateral flexion and flexion with rotation strengthen the oblique muscles.

Neuromuscular control of posture is challenging for many clients.

Your brain and muscles need to communicate effectively.  The first step is the ability to visualize and “feel” correct postural balance.  Small muscles along your spine provide proprioceptive feedback of alignment. The instructor will cue corrections to your posture throughout the exercises to help you keep your spine aligned.

Pilates is not a quick fix.  It takes time to increase the flexibility of your spine.  It takes time to improve the strength and endurance of your muscles.  It takes time to gain better control of your posture.  All three of these modalities need to function in unison to “swing around your spine”.  Pilates is not quick, but it works.

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