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Pilates for Golfers


Pilates for golf

Whether driving the ball down the fairway, squatting down to measure a putt or leaning over to pick up a ball, golfers work their bodies hard over a number of hours.

The golf swing, in particular is a repetitive, full body movement.  Being very asymmetrical in nature, the swing can result in some muscles becoming overused and others weakening.

I see many golfers with muscle imbalances and limited mobility through their back, shoulders, and hips.

Besides causing stiffness and pain, this inability to move freely through full range of motion, can affect your game, particularly as you age. Your drives may be shorter and less accurate, your stamina may decrease, and the potential for debilitating strains, pulls and tears becomes much higher.

Many golfers – from local club players to the game’s elite like Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam – find PILATES balances and strengthens their bodies, improving performance.


Regular Pilates classes will improve your mobility through targeted stretching in your upper back, around your ribcage, shoulders and hips and build stability through your core and other joints.


But if you want to try just one stretch, do the THREAD THE NEEDLE exercise to loosen your neck, shoulders and upper back.


The THREAD THE NEEDLE exercise, is a deep, relaxing stretch that predominantly targets the muscles in in the upper back, around the shoulder blade and the chest and encourages rotation through the spine, neck and shoulders. It can be performed as a warm-up before your game or as part of your daily routine to keep your body moving freely, minimising further issues through the lower back and hips.


Precautions before you start

The THREAD THE NEEDLE exercise, is generally safe and suitable for most people, however, always keep the stretch gentle and progress it further as you slowly loosen over time - you’ll get much better results and minimise the risk of over-stretching.

If you have a disk/ spine/neck issues or a shoulder injury, extra caution is required and it may be best to seek advice from a qualified Pilates instructor or physiotherapist who can guide you through the exercise. If you experience pain or an increase in symptoms with this exercise, you should not proceed.

If you have a knee injury you may prefer some padding under the knees for this exercise. Your Pilates instructor can also offer you alternatives if you find the all fours position too difficult


To do the THREAD THE NEEDLE exercise,

Position yourself on the floor, in an all-fours position, with your knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders. Ensure your knees and hands aren’t too close, so your back isn’t rounded and you’re not sitting back on your haunches.

Thread an arm, under your body – dropping that shoulder towards the floor whilst keeping your hand close to the floor. It does help to bend the opposite elbow. The upper body will rotate as your reach your arm through and you’ll feel a stretch through your upper back/ shoulder.

Thread your arm back through, lifting up that arm towards the ceiling. Let your gaze follow your hand and focus on rotating the chest. Only go as far as comfortable – you’ll find you’ll be able to go further with time. You’ll feel a great stretch through the upper back, chest and shoulder.

Repeat a number of times on this side before switching over to the other side. If you have one side tighter than the other (typical for golfers) you may want to do a few more on the tighter side.

Pilates thread the needle

Points to remember:

  • Build up slowly, your body will respond better if you ease into the stretch gently

  • Holding the stretch in each position and taking a deep breath out can improve the stretch OR you may prefer to move reasonably quickly through the stretches – give both a try and feel the difference. Slow generally gives a deeper, more relaxing stretch whilst faster generally frees the spine a bit more.

  • Watch that you aren’t sitting back onto your haunches as you thread you hand through – it may feel like you can reach further but the stretch is less effective.

  • Try to keep your arm in line with your shoulder, ie. Not dropping back towards your hip and feel the rotation of the chest when you lift your arm up

If you’d like to feel the real benefits of Pilates and how it can support your golf game, complete an ENQUIRY.

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