YOGA FOR GOLFERS
Yoga for Golfers
I had just finished tidying up after one of my yoga classes at Exeter Golf & Country club and, by chance, bumped into Gary Milne, Head Coach for Devon County Golf Union. We had never met before and had a chat about yoga for sports people and how it could help golfers. A few months later we agreed to set up yoga conditioning classes for the Devon County Golf Union under 14 and under 16 teams.
I had been for some time teaching yoga conditioning classes designed specifically for runners, cyclists and athletes and had carried out quite a bit of research into how yoga would help sports people such as rugby and football players. Yoga is a great cross-training practice for people who participate in sports.
I spent quite a bit of time researching what happens to the body when a person plays golf and practised my ‘swing’ at home a few times to try and get a feel for what was going on in the body when a person plays golf. I found out that a good golfer needs to be flexible throughout the spine and needs to be strong in the legs, arms and core region. This means that golfers need to develop good mobility in the lower back and hips and a better range of movement in the shoulders and the arms. If a golfer increases flexibility in the muscles, it will enable more mobility in the joints and this will increase performance and reduce the risk of injuries.
Devon County Golf Union – Triangle pose
I found out that golfers tend to injure in the following order:
Lower back: This is usually a combination of minor disc problems and facet joint irritation.
Wrist – The Triangular Fibra Cartilage can get torn, mainly through overuse.
Shoulder – The shoulder needs to be flexible so it is not always operating at the end of its range of movement.
Elbow – If the spine is not flexible enough to move the swing then the golfer tends to just hit with his or her arms.
Knee – If spinal flexion isn’t good enough, the knees will be overused. They should stay stable while the spine twists.
In addition, golfers swing on the same side each time so this puts additional pressure and strain on one side of the body and is likely to increase the risk of injury.
I designed a yoga conditioning class specifically for the golfers working on the areas that golfers need to focus on to help them to help prevent injuries and to use yoga as a form of cross training practice. At the start of each class, I ask a volunteer to show us how he or she would take a swing. We carry out an analysis of the body to see what happens to each part of the body during the swing. We look at which parts of the body should remain stable, which parts of the body need to be strong, which parts of the body require flexibility and mobility. We then look at weaknesses in the body which can cause injury. We then work through a series of yoga postures and breathing practices designed to help golfers.
Devon County Golf Union – Chair pose
Types of postures
In a yoga conditioning for golfers’ class, I focus on postures that enable the golfers to:
- Have a better range of movement in the shoulders
- Have stronger quads to help protect the knees
- Develop spinal flexion to help prevent lower back injuries
- Lengthen the hip flexors which will enable more rotation into the spine
- Keep players grounded through the feet
- Develop core strength
- Strengthen the back
- Lengthen the hamstrings
- Reduce the risk of injuries
We also learn about the breath and I teach some practice breathing techniques. Correct breathing will help improve concentration, focus and also increase performance.
Devon County Golf Union – learning breathing techniques
Devon County Golf Union really enjoyed the yoga for golfers and it helped the golfers learn about their bodies and how yoga can help them with their game. I am now working with the Devon County Golf Union on setting up a number of yoga classes for golfers as well as the local golf clubs.
Benefits of yoga for golfers
So why should you get involved in yoga if you play golf? Yoga will help you to:
- build strength, flexibility and stability in the spine
- increase mobility in their joints
- develop more flexible muscles
- develop strength in the legs and glutes
- lengthen the hamstrings
- develop core strength
- improve focus and concentration
- increase fitness levels
- increase energy levels
- breath correctly
Yoga will also help reduce the risk of injury for golfers and is a great cross-training practice for golfers. Many people feel that they can’t do yoga as they are not flexible enough. Yoga will help you develop flexibility and mobility which will, in turn, help you improve your performance.
For further information, please contact Annelie Carver at Look Within Yoga