Over the last fifteen years, my focus of has been on training athletes, primarily golfers. Considering the most common injury among golfers is the back, I decided to develop this series of exercises that not only support greater golf performance but will help you feel healthier off the golf course.
Remember your body is three-dimensional, so we need to pay attention to the entire core of the body, not just a specific area of the back. This week we begin with some simple but effective abdominal exercises. Pay attention to breathing deeply, specifically exhaling on the exertion phase of the exercises.
This pose activates the transverse abdominus, the lowest part of the abdominal region as well as the pelvic floor. This area also called the perineum, which is supported by a webbed-like collection of muscles, similar to that of the webbing on the seat of an outdoor chair. This is important because this webbing supports the spine by holding it upright and giving support to the organs of the low belly.
Lying on your back, place a towel or block between the inner thighs. Place the hands behind the neck or next to the body. Squeeze the towel as much as possible and press your abdominals, specifically the area below the navel, towards the floor. Hold for a slow count of ten. Pay attention to continued breathing through the nose. Repeat three times resting for one minute between sets.
Tip: When doing this exercise, try to imagine that you had a penny beneath your low back and the action of the spine pressing towards the floor would make an imprint of the penny in the carpet.
Continue to maintain this action in the lower abdominals. Place the hands behind the neck supporting the head.
On your exhalation, lift the upper body towards the ceiling. Continue for a set of fifteen, rest for one minute and repeat three times.
Note: Think about lifting the sternum and face towards the ceiling; do not pull on the neck.
Begin on all fours, pulling the abdominals in, maintaining a straight spine. Lift the right leg, squeezing the gluts and lift the left arm. Visualize increasing the length between the right foot and the left hand. Focus towards the floor. Hold for a slow count of five. Switch sides and repeat two times.
On your belly, begin by pulling the lower abdominals towards the spine, squeeze the gluts tightly, pressing the tailbone down. Lift the right leg and the left arm. Hold for a slow count of five and switch sides. Repeat two times.
Rest for one minute and begin the Superman position by squeezing the gluts as tight as possible. Note: Engaging the gluts is critical as it provides support for the low back. Slowly lift the legs off the floor and then lift the arms. Hold for a count of five, rest and repeat three times.
Once you have completed these poses, come to all fours completing a series of Cat / cow poses and then rest into a childs pose. These poses are considered counter poses, that is exercises that balance the strengthening work with flexibility work.
Next week, we will roll out more exercises for increasing lumbar flexibility. Please e-mail me and let me know how you are progressing with this back series.
In the next three weeks I will be offering a laminated flip chart that includes this back series and a more exercises for the back. This is great for alternating flexibility and strength conditioning and is a perfect tool to take with you when you travel. Stay tuned through my website @ www.yogaforgolfers.com.
Editor's Note: Katherine Roberts, founder of Yoga for Golfers, has 20 years of experience in fitness training, yoga studies, professional coaching and motivation. Katherine welcomes your email questions and comments, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.