of my clients was talking with me an brought up that before they started working with me one of the things they used to love to do was stand on a BOSU ball and work on their golf swing. If you don't know what a BOSU ball is, see the picture below.
They said we train a lot of balance and coordination but why don't we do anything like that?
I said it's pretty easy, Ground Reaction Forces(GRF).
What are GRFs?
According to Newton's Third Law of Motion,
For Every Action There Is An Equal And Opposite Reaction
We all remember that from school. But what does that mean in relation to GRFs?
When we stand on the ground our body is exerting a downward force on the ground because of our weight and gravity. At the same time the ground is exerting a force back up against us equal to the downward force we are exerting.
As we are all trying to becoming better golfers and want to increase our drive distance, Newton's Third Law is a key concept. When we swing a golf club on a stable surface (like the ground), we drive our feet into the ground to solidify ourselves so that we can create power that will go from our legs to our core to our upper torso to the arms and out through the club.
When we stand on an unstable surface the amount of GRF that is created by us is lower because "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction". The unstable surface cannot exert enough upward force against our downward force. Meaning that our downward force will be lower to equal the upward force.
So the amount of power you can create and drive up through the body and out to the club goes down.
With all that said there is a time to use unstable surface training, but it generally is used in a rehab setting. Not for creating maximal power.
A question that I've been asked recently is whether or not fitness is good or bad for a golf game. As you can guess my answer is fitness is great for a golf game.
But let's talk about his and see why I believe this.
First, what are some things people say about golf and fitness?
And that is just a few of the things I hear from golfers on a regular basis.
Let's look at Tiger Woods first.
He is arguably the greatest golfer of all time. He even had a chance to take the top spot for Majors in a career. But as we all know his low back has become such an issue that he cannot play to a level high enough to compete in the PGA anymore.
But where did he go wrong?
It's not that he went in the wrong direction per se, more that before and during his rise the knowledge of correct training for a golfer was unknown. I don't know his exact training regimen from his early days of his golf career, but my guess is he trained something close to a pro football/baseball player. As time has went by and the idea of golfers training like athletes has gained popularity, more research was done and the field of golf specific fitness grew. What we know today and what we knew then are light years apart.
Honestly, in my opinion, he was on the cutting edge of golf specific fitness, and he was kind of a guinea pig. Every golfer now needs to thank him for sacrificing himself to the science of golf specific fitness.
Now we can tackle the next idea that lifting weights will make you tight.
Which is true. Your muscles will tighten up and become stronger. If you are not also working on mobility and flexibility then you will lose your range of motion and lose the ability to rotate like you need for a golf swing.
Another thought on this is a properly designed training regimen. If you are only working your chest it will become extremely tight. You must not only train the muscles of your chest, but you must also train the opposing muscles of the upper back. And you need to work both sides though the greatest pain free range of motion that you can. When opposing muscles both have range of motion and a strength ratio close to 1:1, you will have a body that is able to a lot including be strong without sacrificing mobility.
And the last thing people say is that they are too old to lift weights or improve their physical ability.
For this I will just cite two studies.
First one study took 12 male and 5 female golfers between 39 and 63 years old. They put them through an 8 week
training period. At the end of the 8 weeks there was an average Club Head Speed increase of 6.3%.(1)
Second a study took 11 male golfers ages 61 to 80 and put them through an 8 week functional training program.
Their club head speed increased from 127.3 kph to 133.6 kph.(2)
These clearly show that you can increase your capabilities at any age.
You just need to make sure your training regimen is properly constructed. This is done with a full evaluation of your current level and skills,
As you can see golf and fitness go hand in hand. The outcome from a properly designed training regimen can be huge. Just remember it takes time to develop your physical capabilities just like it took time to develop your golf swing!
(1)HETU FE, CHRISTIE CA, FAIGENBAUM AD. EFFECTS OF CONDITIONING ON PHYSICAL FITNESS AND CLUB HEAD SPEED IN MATURE GOLFERS. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 1998;86(3):811–815. doi:10.2466/pms.1918.104.22.1681.
(2)THOMPSON CJ, COBB KM, BLACKWELL J. FUNCTIONAL TRAINING IMPROVES CLUB HEAD SPEED AND FUNCTIONAL FITNESS IN OLDER GOLFERS. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2007;21(1):131–137. doi:10.1519/00124278-200702000-00024.
One of the questions that was posed to me a couple of weeks ago was about a person's hamstrings.
They said that no matter how much they stretched their hamstrings they never seemed to feel like the got anywhere.
So here is my answer...
You probably have one of two problems.
The hamstrings are a muscle that crosses two joint. The help in moving at the hip and at the knee. Because of this if one end is affected it can prevent or disrupt proper mechanics at the other end.
There is also 3 muscles in the hamstring.
Depending on what you do to stretch can affect which of the three is getting stretched and sometimes you're stretching the wrong one.
Here is a video that will explain a little more and show some ways to stretch the hamstring.
If you have more questions on the Hamstrings feel free to ask and if you have any other questions feel free to reply to this email and who knows it could be a future newletter topic.
Over the past 4 weeks, if you've been following along, I spoke about 4 different sling systems. (click the names below if you missed them)
Posterior Oblique Sling
Anterior Oblique Sling
Deep Longitudinal Sling
Today I want to talk about how they are all interrelated and how working on them can turn you into a more stable and powerful golfer.
Watch this video to find out...
I hope you have learned something about how the body is interrelated and that working on one body part is not the way to go to become a better golfer.
On to the last sling of the body. We have already covered the Posterior Oblique Sling, the Anterior Oblique Sling, and the Deep Longitudinal Sling. Now we move on to the Lateral Sling.
The Lateral Sling is made up of....
Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL)
Contralateral Quadratus Lumborum (QL)
Together these muscles work to stabilize your when you are on one leg. If these muscles are weak you would have a very hard time standing on one leg. The Gluteus Medius and the TFL work together to abduct the leg (move away from the center of your body) while the Adductors (magnus, brevis, and longus) work to adductor your leg(pull back in to the center of your body). These counteract each other to stabilize the leg. The Contralateral QL comes in to play to help stabilize your core on the leg you are not standing on so that you don't bend away from the stance leg.
What does all that have to do with golf?
The muscles of the Lateral Sling are crucial to your golf game. I said that you would have a hard time standing on one leg. When swinging a golf club you don't actually stand on one leg but you do shift your weight from your back leg to your front leg.
During the golf swing if these are weak, you will have problems with sway and slide. Another issue is that a weak lateral system means a loss of power and maybe even injury.
Watch this video for more information.
Over the past couple weeks I've been talking about the Slings of the body. These are groups of muscles and connective tissue that work together to create a certain movement in our body. The first one I talked about was the Posterior Oblique Sling and how it is the true power house of the golf swing. Next was the Anterior Oblique Sling and how it worked to stabilize your anterior (or front side) against the Posterior Oblique Sling.
This week we move on to the Deep Longitudinal Sling. The Deep Longitudinal Sling is made up of....
Contralateral Erector Spinae
Together these muscles work as stabilizers of the hips and core. This is mainly seen as we walk, these muscles absorb energy from the ground and transfer it up the body. Where the energy being set up will dissipate before reaching the head if the core is acting properly.
The Biceps Femoris has a special value in the stabilization of the hips. As the Biceps Femoris is contracted the sacrotuberous ligament is pulled down with it. This forces closure of the Sacroiliac Joint (SI Joint).
What does all that have to do with golf?
I mentioned that the main purpose of these muscles is to stabilize the hips and core. Whereas the other slings I've talked about, the Posterior Oblique and Anterior Oblique Slings, they stabilize but really produce the power created in the golf swing. The Deep Longitudinal Sling counteracts these slings to stabilize but as mentioned before also transfer the energy created in your back swing up your body as you go into your downswing.
Watch this video for more information.
Last week I talked about the Posterior Oblique Sling and how it affects your golf game. This week we’ll take a look at the Anterior Oblique Sling. This system is the opposition to the Posterior Oblique Sling. So if the Posterior Oblique Sling musculature is contracted then the Anterior Oblique Sling is stretched and vice versa.
Just as with the Posterior Oblique Sling, if we have a properly working and controlled Anterior Oblique Sling we can reduce the chance of injury and get more power from our swing.
The Anterior Oblique Sling is made up of…
Together these connect the front right side of your abdominal region to the front inside of the left hip, or vice versa. And just like the Posterior Oblique Sling the Anterior Oblique Sling helps to drive locomotion.
Except whereas the Posterior Oblique Sling pulls the opposing leg and arm back, the Anterior Oblique Sling pulls the opposing hip and side forward.
So how does this affect my golf game you may be asking yourself? Well, in the newsletter last week we talked about how as you swing the golf club back you contract the opposing shoulder in hip musculature of the Posterior Oblique Sling. The main power of your golf swing comes from the Posterior Oblique Sling. So why do we need the Anterior Oblique Sling? The Anterior Oblique Sling contributes in 2 ways. It does help to cause the movement by contracting the (for a right handed golfer) right obliques and left adductors to start to transition back down from the back swing. The other main concern for the Anterior Oblique Sling is the stability it provides. Remember if your Posterior Oblique Sling is doing great but the opposing musculature isn’t strong and stable then the Posterior Oblique Sling has nothing to work off of and you will lose power and/or get injured.
Watch this video for more information.
Last week’s blog “The Secret System Controlling Your Body” told you about the fascial system and how it truly ties everything together from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. This week I want to dive into one of the subsystems, specifically the Posterior Oblique Sling.
If we can learn to use the Posterior Oblique Sling we will have a much more powerful swing while reducing the chance of injury.
So what is the Posterior Oblique Sling? It is comprised of 3 things…
Contralateral Latissimus Dorsi
Together these 3 connect your left shoulder and your right hip, as well as your right shoulder and left hip. This is very important because this helps to drive our base locomotion.
Think about as you walk the right arm will swing forward while the left leg swings forward, and vice versa. Meaning the Posterior Oblique Sling is stretched as they swing forward. As they swing back the musculature of the Posterior Oblique Sling contracts. It is these opposing sides one swings forward and the other swings back that allow us to walk upright. They keep our back up correctly.
I know that was a lot to understand, watch this video to help.
What if I told you to stop looking at your body in parts?
What if I said your head is directly linked to your foot?
What if I said your right shoulder affects your left hip?
Most people don’t know this, but there is a secret system, called the fascial system within the body. The fascial system is comprised of sheets of collagenous fibers throughout your body. These sheets go from all over the body and in many different directions. They are used like guide wires to support our bodies.
Think about it like a suspension bridge. All those cables being used to help hold up the whole bridge off of a couple of main structures.
Our body has something called “tensegrity” within it. This is the idea that tension is developed throughout the fascial system to provide integrity to the structure of our bodies.
What if the tension in one spot increases? Or decreases?
That change will throw the whole system off.
Obviously when you reach down to pick something up the fascial system will change, but it will return back to its original state when you stand up.
What if the tension changes and doesn’t go back to its original state?
Here is where the problem comes in.
You may hear of things like adhesions within your body. That is your body trying to protect itself like you would when you put a cast over a broken ankle. You can’t use the ankle while it is in a cast. Similarly with injury your body creates adhesions. These adhesions act like a cast and restrict movement.
So you have the fascial system which acts to support or body like guide wires on a suspension bridge. But if you damage it, then you will lose function from the formation of adhesions. This will throw the whole system out of balance.
Here is a video that shows the inner connectedness of the fascial system.
You can try this on yourself, because when you feel the difference you will understand.
One way to help get rid of these adhesions is foam rolling. I’m sure you may have heard of this technique before. Maybe you even tried a little.
Here’s a little disclaimer about foam rolling. It hurts, some places on your body are worse than others, some aren’t so bad, and each person is different. The first time I used the foam roller on my IT Band, I almost cried it hurt so bad. You are probably asking why do it, if it hurt so bad? I wanted to see what it could do for me; I could then apply it to my clients.
I used a foam roller almost daily for a year, generally only skipping on Sundays. During that time my body changed. I was more flexible, I had less pain, and foam rolling didn’t hurt anymore. So if you choose to do this, please be consistent for at least a month to truly give it a shot.
If you are unsure as to how to go about this, here is a link to videos I created on how to use a foam roller on different parts of your body.
Make sure to check back next week as we dive deeper into the fascial system and start looking at how we can harness it to make ourselves better golfers.
I hope you read the blog from last week talking about how being able to control your body better will help your golf game because you will be more aware of how your body moves.
Now, after last week's blog I also told you I would be showing you a workout you can do that will help you understand how control can be applied to your training.
Without further ado...
Here are 3 moves to perform as a small circuit. These are great as a full body warm up. Remember will all the exercises in this workout you must maintain a steady pace of movement. Moving too fast will cause you to lose control.
For the Shoulder Tap Plank perform 8 reps on each arm. For the Bear Crawl go about 10 feet forward and backward. And for the Standing Pallof Press Hold, hold for 20 seconds on each side.