Updated: Oct 23, 2018
Golf has grown in popularity extremely recently; more and more people are now taking up the sport. Usually associated with retired men and women, it’s now become a sport for everyone, of every age.
Along with its popularity and the fact that ‘old’ people play it, gives the perception that is an easy, low impact and doesn’t require a lot of effort/strength. Oh, how they are wrong. Trackman statistics report the average club head speed for a 14-15-handicap level is about 93.4 mph! Compression forces of up to eight times body weight and 80% more shear forces have been reported in the right lumbar spine of a right-handed professional golfer.
Now, this obviously fluctuates depending on a lot of factors. But you get the idea, it’s a lot of speed going through the body. If there is a weak or tight link through that swing, that is going to cause some problems, whether that be loss of speed, loss of sequencing or increased injury.
During a golf swing, you want to be as smooth and fluid as possible. Having a free and powerful swing will rely on many things, but especially normal range of motion at particular joints. Range of motion is the full potential a joint can move, having a joint that can move the most can generate the most power potential.
MOBILITY VS FLEXIBILITY
Flexibility is defined as "the ability of a muscle or muscle groups to lengthen passively through a range of motion"
Mobility is the "ability of a joint to move actively through a range of motion”
In golf, the swing requires extreme rotational ranges of motion (ROMs) involving the trunk and lower extremities, especially the hips. Among golf injuries, low back pain (LBP) is the most common complaint for both professional and amateur golfers. Golfers with a history of LBP also experienced their LBP while performing activities of daily living such as walking, standing, or sitting. Activities that require hip rotation such as a golf swing or a racquet sport could result in an increased and out-of-sync lumbopelvic motion.
Not only does golf require a lot of joint range of motion, it also requires rotational movement, which a lot of people are not used to. Unless you have had experience prior to golf playing sports that require rotating (tennis, squash, football etc), then moving in such a way can feel unnatural. Your body will not be used to the movement either, so that could potentially cause some problems. I’ve said it before, but the population who are sedentary and have desk jobs will generally be the most susceptible to get injured.
There are a lot of areas that can be affecting your swing, and it’s good to go and get a professional to assess what they might be. But for a lot of people, they will need to increase their range of motion and mobility regardless of their swing, and it will only benefit them. On this post, I will show the most important 5 areas to focus on. These normally have the most effect of the body, especially in a golf swing.
The 5 areas to focus on are: Shoulders, Wrists, T-Spine, Hips and Ankles.
Shoulders: For the shoulders, we’re going to focus on the Lats. The latissimus dorsi, is the big fan like muscle that surrounds the back of your shoulder and is a big player in tightness in a lot of people. To release this muscle, place the peanut ball on the floor and lay sideways so that the ball is level with your armpit. Gently apply pressure down onto the ball, so that it is pushing on the back of the armpit. Play around with the area and try to identify sore spots.
Wrists: Wrists often get neglected with release work, so make sure you spend some time on these. To help with wrist flexibility, you need to target the forearms as they are responsible for the movement at the wrist. Place the ball on the floor and kneel so you can apply pressure down onto the forearm. With the other hand, push down on the forearm so you can apply the correct amount of pressure. Roll the whole way from the wrist to the elbow to find the tight areas. Also remember to play around with the hand position so you can target the whole of the forearm.
T-Spine: The T-Spine (Thoracic Spine) is the middle part of the back. For an ideal golf position, the person needs a flexible spine in flexion, extension and rotation. Place the ball on the floor so the ball will be at the middle of the back. Place your hands across your chest and slowly bend over the ball making sure to relax and breathe nice and controlled. The pressure of the ball might feel quite intense to start with but be persistent and it will start to feel normal. Try different movements like putting your hands above your head to get into certain areas.
Hips: The hips are vital for a strong mobile golf swing. The area we’re going to focus on is the glutes and piriformis. Place the ball on the floor and gently sit leaning on one side, the ball should be in the soft tissue part of the glute. With your body weight pushing down on the ball, slightly rock back and forth on the glute and identify the sore spots. Play around with movements such as placing one leg on top of the other, and moving the leg in and out whilst the pressure is being applied.
Ankles: Again, the ankles play a huge role in a good golf swing. The tighter the ankles are, the harder it will be to generate force through them. To improve flexibility at the ankle, we need to focus on the calf and soleus muscle. Place the ball on the floor so that you calf is directly over the top of it. Apply the pressure onto the ball and roll up and down the whole length of the calf identifying the sore spots. When releasing a certain area, move the ankle into flexion and extension to try and target deeper into the muscle.
These 5 release areas can have a dramatic effect on your overall flexibility. If you can improve each part by just a little bit, then adding them all up in the golf swing will accumulate to a massive change. Remember these techniques need to be practised every day to ensure they hold their flexibility. They should be included into your warm up routine and cool down routine.
If you want those extra yards off the TEE, don’t forget your flexibili-TEE and mobili-TEE.
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