The Complicated Effortlessness of Golf
Have you ever watched a ballerina float across the stage en pointe, or a skier on the freestyle course, whipping
down the mountain and gliding over the moguls and been amazed at how effortless it all seems? How about watching a golfer tee off on the course, holding that perfect form as the ball soars down the fairway? The main thing that these three sports (yes, I'm considering ballet a sport) have in common is that there is some serious effort and mechanics going on behind every second of these actions. If we don't keep up with these mechanics and keep our body in proper form, that is when it starts to look like work, errors begin occurring, which eventually will lead to unnecessary injuries.
Arnold Palmer once said that "Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated". Truer words have never been spoken. Besides the mental aspect, there is one main component of golf and that is your ability to swing a golf club. There are those that look at it and think, "What's so hard about that? I can do that, no problem" but there is some serious science going on behind that movement and requires constant conditioning of the body.
As in life, we start to notice that it may get harder to do certain tasks, like looking over your shoulder without turning your body or being able to look over your shoulder while backing your car out, all of a sudden you realize you can't get yourself looking back far enough. Similar to these examples, it may become difficult to get your full golf swing completed, or may be harder to rotate with the momentum of the follow through. Luckily all these things can be improved and corrected, but first you must look deep and identify your body's weak points to be able to move your game forward.
An example is if you have forward head posture FHP, you likely struggle with reduced or restricted thoracic mobility which will limit your range of motion and restrict your full swing. FHP also messes with your short game accuracy due to upper body imbalance and poor posture.
Another area that can affect not just your golf game but all aspects of your life is reduced thoracic mobility. This is a BIG component, which you'll hear me reference in all the other issues listed below. It's all tied together! Thoracic mobility is the range of motion in your upper back, which is a major part of having a healthy back and spine. Do you suffer from low back pain or maybe neck pain? How's your breathing - do you get winded easily? These are just a few signs that your thoracic mobility has been compromised.
Now how about those hips? Are they nice and loose or are they so tight that touching your toes is your Everest? Your hips are your POWER! and as Shakira says, they don't lie. If the ball hasn't been making it as far down the fairway as it used to or your gait isn't as smooth, causing you to overcompensate and put added stress on other joints, weakness in your hips may be the issue. Now, when we are talking about your hips, we are referring to the muscles that surround your hips, often broken up into 2 categories, flexors in the front, extensors in the back. These are what control the movement in the hip - the flexors are tied to your knees and your ability to bend at the waist while the extensors are tied to the backward movement of the thigh. Going back to that range of motion, if you have weak/tight hips, you are losing strength through your range of motion. The power behind your swing is your hips - being able to go through the full range of your golf swing, building the power in the downswing, making impact with the ball and being able to allow the impact momentum to follow through the swing plane. Tight/weak hips is going to hinder this movement and could lead to injuries if not addressed.
Short game anyone? How's your chip shot coming? Standing on terrain that may call for you to adjust your stance is going to require some balance. Without strong posture your balance is going to be compromised, because essentially your body is, well... out of balance! With chipping or putting, you're not taking great swings but you still need balance to hold your stance while you line up the shot, have good range of motion to make the swing, and have strong hips to be able to lean over the ball, and no slouching during that lean! Strong posture should hold your frame throughout the movement, and keep knees soft to allow your body to follow through the motion patterns.
Finally last, but certainly not least is your general conditioning and pre swing warm up. While talking about it last, these are certainly the things you should be doing before you even step up to the tee or better yet, on the course. How many days a week do you stretch, exercise, or just do some physical activity that will stretch and tone your muscles? Without creating the groundwork for everything mentioned above you won't have the flexibility, strength, or stamina to play your best round of golf.
So, if you are working out or doing some physical exercise, is thoracic mobility conditioning on the list? Being specific in your areas of weakness is key to actually making improvements in your game. Physical conditioning in general will surely help you maximize your swing speed and reduce injury potential but once again, what is your specific nemesis to moving your game forward?
Stretching obviously can increase flexibility and has been proven to increase club speed. Conditioning in and of itself is going to polish up your game but lets once again hone in on your specific game changer. Perhaps there’s a weakness in the hips and your not executing the power in your swing like you know you should. A strong core will help facilitate your ability to stay stable during the full swing sequence and help generate maximum torque.
These are a few recommended PostureFit exercises for strengthening your core and hips to improve your power and increase your range of motion. PostureFit is used by golfers and golf coaches as a conditioning tool to tackle these issues. It will help you reach your goals and control your physical performance both on and off the course. Make sure to follow us on IG @get_posturefit to see some of these moves featured on #movemonday this month!
1. Squat lifts
2. Power posture hamstring stretches
3. Single leg deadlift
3. Wood chop lunges
4. Cross over back lunges
5. Hip circles - featured on #movemonday on 3/1
6. Hip adductors
7. Lunge rotations
8. Single leg back squats
9. Spinal Rotation
10. Psoas Stretch
Now, Play Ball!
Oh wait, wrong sport.... Fore!
Can I use my mulligan?