Swing, putt & Pilates; does this medley work?

School Of Pilates Posted Mar 12, 2014 Future Fit Training

Golf uses the same repeated action, the golf swing, which uses the same muscles again and again, placing a golfer's body under pressure.

Swing, putt & Pilates; does this medley work?

To be exceptional at playing golf, it’s important for golfers to not only constantly work on their swing technique but also regularly work on rotation, balance, stability and mental focus and Pilates exercise is the perfect solution to help achieve these aims.

Throughout a game of golf, there is repeated twisting movement which places huge pressure on the spine and specifically the spinal discs so a strong back and core is essential.

All these movements and muscle actions can lead to injury and long-term damage as the muscles and ligaments involved with these actions become weak and muscular in-balance occurs. The body will compensate for any weakness so other areas will suffer too. The lower back tends to be the area that is most vulnerable which is why it is important for golfers to keep fit and focus on strengthening and lengthening the specific areas that are targeted as follows:

  • Strengthening the core areas to increase stability of the pelvis
  • Increase lower to mid back flexibility and strength
  • Strengthen the gluteals, hamstrings and abdominals
  • Increase shoulder and rotator cuff strength and flexibility 

The neck, wrists, elbows, hips and feet are also vulnerable when playing golf.

Pilates exercise work because they re-align the body focusing on good posture throughout movement, while engaging core muscles, specifically deep postural back muscles and deep abdominal muscles. Pilates also improves flexibility and mental focus which is important when playing golf where concentration and focus is a must before each swing.

When performing or prescribing exercises for a golfer the above areas need to be included within a programme, although each golfer will have individual needs and may have already underlying back or joint problems (which will need to be discussed in detail) however there are many mat-based Pilates exercises that can help when prescribing a general programme.  

Warming Up

Focus on performing or prescribing movements and stretches that focus on the body parts listed above, plenty of mobility and dynamic stretching is recommended for approx. 5 to 10 mins (8 to 10 reps per exercise), as well as deep thoracic breathing. The following are some example exercises:

  • Head turns and head drops for neck/upper spine
  • Individual arm Dumb Waiter exercise combined with a bicep curl (no resistance) for shoulder joint  and rotator cuff area, and elbow
  • Large arm circles both directions for shoulder mobility
  • The Roll down (from standing with straight legs) for the spine and supporting muscles
  • Bending forward keeping the back in the same position (slight bend in knees and only go down to where no pain is felt in lower back)
  • Spine twist (focus on keeping hips forward) for rotation of the spine
  • Side bends with arms reaching over for lateral flexion of the spine
  • Knee raises for hip mobility

Some Example Main Session Pilates exercises

Encourage the golfer to maintain good posture throughout and keep the abdominals slightly braced (pulled in/naval to spine)


Main body area of focus

Pelvic Tilt (lying)

Pelvis stability and lower back mobility and flexibility


Shoulder Bridge with arms behind resting on the floor


Strengthens the Gluteals, Hamstrings and abdominals, and lengthens the lats, quadriceps, hip flexors and chest/shoulder muscles

The Hundred

Strengthens shoulders, abdominals,  lower back and neck muscles and lengthens chest and mid-back muscles

Double Leg Stretch

Strengthens shoulders, abdominals and neck muscles, and lengthens back and Glute muscles

The Dart


Strengthens all back muscles, lower abdominals, and lengthens upper abdominals, upper back and chest muscles

The Dumb Waiter (seated or standing)


Strengthens and lengthens rotator cuff area

The Pilates Push Up  from standing


Strengthens chest, shoulders, wrists, abdominals and back muscles, and lengthens back, hamstrings, chest and front of shoulder muscles groups.

In addition to the above exercises, perform the following stretches for a minimum of 20 to 30 seconds:

  • Hamstring Stretch - lying
  • Hip Flexors - in the runners start position pushing down and forward
  • Lower back - knees into chest lying the back and also legs relaxed to one side, bent then swap (arms to the opposite side)
  • Shoulder Stretch - straight arm across the body in front and then behind

There are many other Pilates exercises and stretches that will help to improve golf performance just focus on the body areas being worked as well as maintaining good posture at all times. Significant improvement and a reduction in aches and pains will occur fairly quickly if performed 3 times + per week.

Focus, concentration, breathing, relaxation and the ability to engage your core muscles automatically will assist in the improvement of each swing, and in turn the overall game. Pilates is currently performed by many top athletes because when combined with sports specific training the results are extremely positive.

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