Getting Ready for Golf with Pilates
By Faith Wilfley, MD, Stott Pilates Trained in Mat & Reformer
“The practice of Pilates is wonderful for all sorts of reasons: balanced musculature, improved mobility, decreasing injuries, spinal alignment (posture), lessening low back pain, and a strong core.”
Who’s ready for golf?! We all may be mentally, but after a good old Wisconsin winter, we probably aren’t physically up to the challenge. So what’s a body to do? My suggestion is Pilates.
If Josef Pilates were trying to create the perfect exercise for golfers when he invented his method of controlled movement, he would have succeeded beyond all measure. It may not have been his intent, but I believe he achieved that goal all the same.
The practice of Pilates is wonderful for all sorts of reasons: balanced musculature, improved mobility, decreasing injuries, spinal alignment (posture), lessening low back pain, a super-strong core. The list could go on and on. The practices in themselves are amazingly similar in some ways. They are both complex full-body movements. Just as every swing of the club requires many moving parts to work together, so every move in Pilates requires control of the whole body. If two sports were ever “pat-your-head-rub-your-tummy” kind of movements, these are it.
Golf, however, is asymmetric. The cruel trick of the game is that you swing only one way; only work the muscles on ‘one side’ of the body. If your game isn’t going well, you practice. Only swinging one way. Only becoming more imbalanced. Haven’t you ever found that the more you are practicing, the worse your game is getting? This is why. It also leads to injury.
For right handed people, the left (leading) side of the body is injured more than the trailing (right) side. Vice versa for the Phil Mickelsons out there. Fifteen (15) minutes a day of golf-speciﬁc Pilate’s exercises can ensure your body stays balanced and can break the cycle of imbalance and injury.
The best thing is, if you can golf, (or even if you can’t) you can do these exercises. All of the exercises are done standing, wearing sneakers and comfortable clothes. Some people hear ‘Pilates’ and think I’m going to have them prancing about in spandex. I swear that is not what it is. It was actually invented using only men’s bodies.
One of the ﬁrst male clients I ever had accompanied his wife (I am sure, unwillingly). He was so nervous, he was visibly sweating. He was a golfer though, and so most of what we did that day was golf-speciﬁc. At the end he was laughing and relaxed. He looked at me and said, ‘well that was just moving’. Exactly. I still wonder what he thought I was going to make him do. By the way, he called me the next week and said he had had the best golf game of his life that day. Maybe a coincidence, but I like to think he learned something that helped.
What I think helped the most was that he became more aware of his body. Especially the core. And when you initiate every shot by moving from the core ﬁrst, your movements become repeatable and consistent.
There’s a reason why professional golfers like Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods do Pilates after all. If you are interested in ﬁnding out more, please join me at 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness for our “Getting Ready for Golf” sessions on Mondays at 5:30 pm or for individual training. Here’s to a great season!
Faith Wilfley is Stott Pilates Trained in Mat and Reformer. Dr. Wilfley enjoys helping people with different bodies and ways of movement be able to optimize mobility and achieve their goals. She received her undergraduate degree from UW-Milwaukee, M.D. from Medical College of Wisconsin, and did her joint Pediatric residency at UNMC/Creighton in Omaha, NE, and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Dr. Wilfley is a Medical Doctor and was a practicing pediatrician for 12 years. She has good anatomical knowledge and is very safety conscious. Her philosophy in Pilates is the same as that for medicine: ‘First, do no harm’.