|Dr. Neil Wolkodoff writes that while yoga may be helpful, it's no sure thing to help a golfer's game. (n/a)|
In your story, Flexibility on the fairways starting to take root, you describe flexibility as a key component to golf performance, and link yoga to developing this fitness component. While flexibility will definitely help swing plane and swing mechanics, there is little evidence that flexibility will prevent injury.
Furthermore, while some golfers have used yoga to improve their flexibility, there is almost no scientific evidence that yoga is equal to or better than any traditional method of increasing flexibility.
In the meta-analysis of flexibility research, just about every method can produce flexibility gains -- from static stretching to ballistic stretching. While yoga may result in better relaxation, the evidence is slight that this carries over past the exercise session and makes every participant a better golfer.
It can be argued that based upon the nuerophysiological demands of golf being a reciprocally ballistic sport, where you stretch one direction, and then rapidly go the other direction, slow stretching can be detrimental to the golf swing. Other sports are moving towards dynamic and ballistic stretching as the final phase of a warm up or main training method. The same basic thought process can be applied to pilates, where many golfers have turned to find additional flexibility, but with minimal and in some cases detrimental results on their golf swing.
Flexibility is an individual factor that does not necessarily need universal increase for all golfers. If the individual's golf instructor notes the student can take the club back and through their optimal and proper swing path, additional flexibility is not needed.
Neil Wolkodoff, Ph.D. Denver, Colo.
December 12, 2005
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.