I have mentioned before that the golf swing is a very dynamic movement, and for it to work properly, everything must work together. This includes gluteal strength, abdominal strength, hip mobility, lumbothoracic mobility, and shoulder mobility. How do we bring them all together? We do so by working them all together through exercise. Today, we will talk about how the core works together to increase strength, flexibility, and stability. I will be using terminology that may be foreign to you, but I will do my best to describe the meaning behind the words. For instance, if I say lumbothoracic mobility, I am talking about the relationship of motion between the low and mid back. This blog will discuss anatomy of the human body as it relates to the golf swing, how to transfer power throughout the swing, and ways you can improve your golf fitness in the gym. We will start by discussing how the body comes together to create power in the golf swing.
The lower extremity is made up of mobile joints which are connected by rigid segments. For example, the foot is a very stable structure which connects to the lower leg through the ankle, which is a fairly mobile joint. Moving upward, the knee (a mobile joint) separates the rigid segments of the of the lower and upper leg. All of these mobile and stable segments meet at the hip, the second most mobile joint in the human body. The hip, in my opinion, is also the most important joint in the body to create power and efficiency in the golf swing. In order for the hip to create power, it needs to be mobile and have stability. All of these joints and segments make up the lower body, and are the basis for creating power and leverage in the swing, but if they do not collaborate with the upper body, then your sequence suffers. Let's move to the upper extremity to continue our talk about the core of golf.
From the hip, we move to the abdominals and lower back. They lay opposite to each other, but must work together with the glutes (butt muscles) to stabilize the lower body throughout the swing. If there is a deficiency in any of these areas, then compensation will occur and power will be lost. From the low back and abdominals, the next mobile segment is the thoracic spine (mid-back). The thoracic spine connects to the cervical spine (upper back/neck) and creates most of the rotation that occurs in the golf swing, and should be a focal point in transferring and maintaining power in the swing. Next is the shoulder, the most mobile joint in the body and transfers all of the power generated from the core to the lead arm, the club, and ultimately the ball. The moment of truth has happened, all of the power generated throughout the swing has now met the ball, and you notice that ball has not gone as far as you wish, and it happens after every shot. Now what? Why can't you create the amount of power that you want in every shot, or the amount of power that you think you are capable of? The answer might lay in your exercise program. Next, I will discuss how you can train your body to be fit for golf, or better yet, for life.
In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on golf fitness. The reason for it has been the results provided by the PGA Tour. Tour professionals and amateurs alike have improved their game through fitness and have displayed the benefits on local and national scales. Now it's time for you to start training in similar ways as the pros, and it starts with changing the way you work in the gym.
Most people who work out in a gym setting think that exercises such as bench-press, bicep curls and squats will provide the best results, but the fact is that they will not do anything but improve the way that you look. Why is that? My answer is that they do not address rotary performance. Golf is a game that requires rotation, and pretty much rotation only. So, if you are training your body in one "plane" and one plane only, then you will not see results for golf. Instead, you must start implementing a training regimen that encompasses all “planes” of movement and all "degrees of freedom". Oh boy, there he goes again introducing, terms that I do not understand. In this paragraph, I have used words such as "planes" and "degrees of freedom". No need to worry, they are relatively easy to describe. "Planes" describe a motion that is relative to how you stand and degrees of freedom describe how we move. For instance, if you have movement that is in-front or behind your body, such as lifting your arm in-front of you, that is considered the sagittal plane. Next, if you have movement to the left and right of you, such as lifting your arm out to the side, that is in the frontal plane. Finally, the transverse plane happens around you and includes left rotation and right rotation. Those are considered the three planes of movement. Now we must discuss the 6-degrees of freedom, and they are fairly simple to understand as well. They include the physical movement of up and down, movement in space left and right, and forward and backward. All of these movements relate to the golf swing because that is how we move when we swing the club.
Now to golf training! The best way to train is the one that includes the most planes of movement and more degrees of freedom. That means you must work in-front and behind your body, to the left and to the right of your body and around your body to the left and to the right. If you incorporate all of these movements in all of your workouts, then you will improve your core strength, stability, and rotary performance, which ultimately increases the amount of speed you can produce in your golf swing. So the answer to the core of golf is training your body with the core in mind, and it should be done using multiple planes. Exercises such as lateral chops work in two planes of motion from upper right to lower left and visa-versa are the ones you should work on the most. They can also be done using rotation, incorporating thoracic and pelvic rotation, which works all three planes of motion. By changing your mindset of fitness training, you can customize your fitness program to specifically engage the muscles you use in your golf swing. Additional exercises include step-up with kettle-bell and rotation. Although this sounds complex, it is a modified step-up pattern and includes weight and a rotational aspect. Instead of doing a typical step up, you add weight to the arms that are extended outwards, and then you rotate the opposite leg which you bring to your chest on the step up. Rotating to either direction at the top improves hip strength and mobility in that direction. Do you get my point? Working in all directions will have an impact in your golf swing no matter which direction you swing. When you implement these changes to your fitness regimen, you will allow yourself to work in all ranges of motion and will improve the way your body can move throughout your golf swing.
Throughout this blog, we have learned how the body moves during the swing and how your training regimen affects those movements. To improve golf performance, you must first understand how the body creates movement and then sync those movement to your golf specific training regimen. When you incorporate fitness and golf goals together, you are able to develop a program that increases strength, flexibility, and stability, which creates more consistency and increased power. At Bend Golf Performance, we incorporate hard work in order to perform better.