GOLF STRETCHES FOR A BETTER SWING

May 3, 2018 Roberto No comments exist

 

1. GLUTES AND HIPS

We tend to sit on our butts all day meaning out glutes don’t really do much moving.  Over time, they become dormant and essentially forget how to work. As mentioned earlier, the body is a big kinetic chain so if a muscle, like the glutes, stops doing it’s job then the body will compensate elsewhere. The hamstrings and/ or erector spinae (lower back muscles) in this case. The glutes and hips are strong, under-utilized, and are meant for movement. The lower back muscles are smaller, over utilized and not meant for movement. Safe to say you will get a lot more power and less pain when you use your hips instead of your lower back when playing golf. So use your glutes and mobilize your hips to avoid low back pain down the road!

 

 

 

2. THORACIC MOBILITY  

The lower back isn’t meant to move, but the thoracic spine or the “upper back” is. A lack of thoracic mobility in golf means that the body will have to rely more on the lower back to get some rotation, especially during the backswing. Poor thoracic mobility also relates to bad posture aka the “hunchback” posture that can lead to an array of imbalances or movement problems down the road. A greater hunch means less breathing room for the muscles and tendons in the shoulder capsule. If the shoulders can’t work properly then the elbow will have to take on more of the stress, which you definitely don’t want. It’s also a lot harder to get your arms moving when you have that hunchback posture. Give this a try to test it out: Hunch your upper back, straighten your arms and then try to get them overhead. You’ll find that you won’t go very far. Now think about straightening your upper back and try raising your arms up again. You’ll now find that you will have a lot more range of motion. Now think about your swing, you will get a lot more power and rotation when you have a mobile thoracic spine and free moving shoulders.
As you can see, everything is interconnected. Think of mobilizing the upper back and doing some self-myosfascial release with a foam roller or lacrosse ball across the upper back, upper traps, and lats. More importantly, be conscious of your posture and try limiting the exercises that strengthen the muscles in the front (i..e pecs and delts) if you find you’re a bit “hunchy”. Some good exercises below to start things off.

 

 

3. CORE

Golfers without low back pain have been found to have twice as much trunk flexion velocity during the downswing due to increased core activity. The same study also found that golfers with low back pain tend to flex their spines more when addressing the ball, and had less trunk rotation which led to greater rotation from the lower back during the swing. Proper core training is needed, and that does not involve practicing your swing on a swiss ball while blinded folded. Last time I checked you play golf on stable grass and not on an unstable ball, so you should probably stop doing that. Core training in this case refers to cable chop variations, swiss ball exercises, anti-rotation/ anti-extension exercises, and breathing exercises

Core stability + Thoracic mobility = Happy back 🙂

Breathing is important. We all know how to breathe but learning how to breathe through our belly and diaphragm is essential. Try this out: take a deep breathe into your nose and see if you breathe into your belly or your shoulders. If you find yourself shrugging up as you breathe in then you’re more of a chest breather.  We want to breathe through the diaphragm aka belly breathing. By breathing through your diaphragm, you keep your core (abdominals and lower back) tight and braced which takes pressure off your spine. Think of your core as a belt, and you want the belt to be tight to keep the back protected.  Ask any top tennis player or MMA fighter on what they do with their core when they hit the ball or kick and they will tell you it’s all about stiffening the core.

 

 

A BRIEF NOTE ON GOLFERS AND LOWER BACK PAIN

We will most likely experience some sort of low back pain in our lifetime. The ability of our spine to absorb forces declines as we age which makes the likelihood of a lower back injury greater. Especially for older adults that play golf. Golf was Canada’s most practiced sport among Canadian adults in 2010 according to Stats Canada. Unfortunately, low back pain is the most common injury sustained by golfers, accounting for up to 34.5% of all injuries. The average injury will last between 2-4 weeks. The top 3 swing faults related to low back pain are below:

  1. Early extension – Hips come forward into the hand space during the swing
  2. Reverse spine angle  – use of the erector spinae into extension during the backswing
  3. Reverse C finish – finishing with your lumbar spine instead of your hips

golf swing faults 1golf swing faults 2

CONCLUSION

Having strong glutes and adequate mobility in your hips and thoracic spine will help you move pain free. This can be the difference between being on the leaderboard, or having chronic lower back pain. Low back pain is an interesting challenge because of the many potential causes. And because of this, it is important that you utilize all your resources such as exercise, mobility work, self myofascial release, and good daily movement habits. Just make sure you activate your glutes! 

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