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.
The title of this says it all! "Control Yourself! And Take Control of Your Golf Game!"
Too many times I see people at gyms throwing weights around.. getting a good sweat going... but what did they really accomplish.
My clients notice on day 1 with me sometimes we move really slow. I learned a long time ago you can't go fast if you can't go slow. Stop and think about that...
That means if you are working on your golf swing and you just keep whacking at the ball how will you ever get better. Slow your swing down. Control the movement of the club at a slow speed and slowly build on that until you can control the club at high speed.
This goes the same in the gym. You want to lift heavier weights, great I want you too as well. But can you take this lighter weight and do the same thing at a slower pace?
Look at this guy. He has way too much weight on the bar to do those bicep curls correctly. He is arching his back, using his legs...
Quick question when did bicep curls become a leg exercise?
This is just an easy example of how people do things wrong in the gym.
By slowing the pace of a movement you can also get a better sense of proprioception.
Proprioception - to take or grasp, is the sense of the relative position of one's own parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement.
All of the best golfers in the world have amazing proprioception. As the swing the club they know where every part of their body should be and the know when it isn't there.
So focus on things that increase your own awareness when in the gym. Do this for a month then work your way back up while continuing to control your movements. This will help you to truly take your game to the next level!
Check in next week for a workout guaranteed to challenge your control!
Last week I wrote a blog explaining what Upper Cross Syndrome is and how it affects your golf game. I now want to turn my attention to how we can fix these issues.
The first thing we must do is start to mobilize the tissues in and around the shoulders. We will start out with some foam rolling and trigger point work. (if you do not own a foam roller you can get them for around $15 to $20, you will also need a tennis or lacrosse ball as well).
After you perform some soft tissue work with foam roller you can then move on to a couple of stretches. The first is for the chest. Remember to take your time on the stretching. Hold each stretch long enough to take 3 to 5 deep breaths on each side then repeat for a second time.
I just finished in the last two weeks explaining to you what about the hip flexors, Lower Cross Syndrome and how they affect your golf game. I also gave you exercises you can do on your own to combat these issues.
Now we will move on to the upper body. Unlike where I specifically looked at the hip flexors with Lower Cross Syndrome, I will not be focusing on one main group here. I will just look overall at Upper Cross Syndrome.
So what is Upper Cross Syndrome?
Just as with Lower Cross Syndrome, it is a series of tight/shortened muscles opposing a set of weak/inhibited muscles around the neck and upper back.
The main tight/shortened muscles include the pectoralis major and minor, upper trapezius and levator scapula. These oppose and cause the rhomboids, lower to middle trapezius and the deep cervical neck flexors to all be weak and inhibited.
When this happens it causes your upper body to become more kyphotic (rounded shoulders) and as this happens you also get a more exaggerated curve in your cervical spine (neck) causing more torque to be put on the spine in and around the neck. This can generally give people headaches and add a lot of tension to the top of the shoulders for the extra work they now have to do.
A more lengthy description is …
Upper-Crossed Syndrome (UCS) is also referred to as proximal or shoulder girdle crossed syndrome. In UCS, tightness of the upper trapezius and levator scapula on the dorsal side crosses with tightness of the pectoralis major and minor. Weakness of the deep cervical flexors ventrally crosses with weakness of the middle and lower trapezius. This pattern of imbalance creates joint dysfunction, particularly at the atlanto-occipital joint, C4-C5 segment, cervicothoracic joint, glenohumeral joint, and T4-T5 segment. (Janda 1988)
A lot of people have these issues and more are on the way. This comes from what many people do on a daily basis. Sitting at a desk to work, sitting and watching TV, and looking down at our phones… way too much. The era of the cell phone as they are now is only exaggerating the problem. We are even set up for the as a kid sitting at a desk all day studying.
So how does having this issue affect your golf swing?
Upper Cross Syndrome has a lot to do with thoracic rotation (upper body / rib cage area). When your chest (pectoralis major and minor) and tight and shortened they restrict how far back your arms can rotate. As you try to rotate one arm back you chest should relax while the muscles of your upper back (middle and lower trapezius and rhomboids) contract to pull the shoulder blade (scapula) back. When this doesn’t happen because the upper back is too weak to contract against the chest you get less rotation.
Another issue that comes into play here is chicken winging. If your chest is tight your lats (latissimus dorsi) also start to tighten up and together they internally rotate the arm at the shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint). The arm needs to be able to externally rotate to allow the club to swing fully though. Sometimes with chicken winging you may feel like you just can’t get enough rotation and feel blocked during your follow through.
Besides Upper Cross Syndrome affecting you ability to rotate it also affects the amount of power you can generate and handle. If the upper trapezius is pulling the shoulder blades up too high it causes a destabilization of the shoulders. When there is a lack of stability in the shoulder they cannot produce enough and cannot handle enough power. So even if you are capable of producing enough power from your lower body and get it to fully transfer up the body you cannot get it through your shoulders because they are not stable enough. Worse yet is that if enough power gets to this joint without the ability to handle it, that is where you get an injury.
As you can see being able to get the most out of your golf swing requires a mobile upper body and sitting at a desk or in a car all day is restricting your ability to do this. Make sure to watch for next week’s article to get stretches, mobility and strengthening drills to combat Upper Cross Syndrome.
Last week's blog explained what your hip flexors do, lower cross syndrome, and how these affect your golf game.
If you didn't get a chance to read it CLICK HERE.
I promised at the end that I would share with you this week things you can do to fix these issues. And without further ado...
The first thing we must do is start to mobilize the tissues in and around the hips. We will start out with some foam rolling (if you do not own a foam roller you can get them for around $15 to $20).
The hip flexors are a set of muscles that act to bring your knee to your chest. Meaning they flex your body at your waist. There are a few main ones and a couple others that assist.
Main Hip Flexors
Psoas (Major and Minor)
Rectus Femoris (also extends the knee)
Assist in Hip Flexion
Tensor Fasciae Latae
Each of these muscles has a job when the action of flexion of the hip is required. Depending on the exact movement needed you may use all of them or some of them.
What is Lower Cross Syndrome?
Lower Cross Syndrome (LCS) generally refers to what happens to your body after years of prolonged sitting if you don’t do things to counteract it.
LCS is a tight and shortened set of hip flexors and a tightened group of muscles in the lower back. The opposite side of these is a weak/inhibited abdominal muscle and weak/inhibited glutes.
When this situation happens the pelvis becomes anteriorly tilted causing lordosis (exaggerated arching of the low back). Over time this causes people many problems, the main one being low back pain.
A more lengthy description is…
Lower Cross Syndrome (LCS) is also referred to as distal or pelvic crossed syndrome. In LCS, tightness of the thoracolumbar extensors on the dorsal side crosses with tightness of the iliopsoas and rectus femoris. Weakness of the deep abdominal muscles ventrally crosses with weakness of the gluteus maximus and medius. This pattern of imbalance creates joint dysfunction, particularly at the L4-L5 and L5-S1 segments, SI joint, and hip joint. Specific postural changes seen in LCS include anterior pelvic tilt, increased lumbar lordosis, lateral lumbar shift, lateral leg rotation, and knee hyperextension. If the lordosis is deep and short, then imbalance is predominantly in the pelvic muscles; if the lordosis is shallow and extends into the thoracic area, then imbalance predominates in the trunk muscles.(Janda 1987)
I hope you had fun reading that.
Many people reading this right now have this and deal with it unknowingly to some degree or another.
Now that we have an idea of what prolonged sitting is doing to our bodies and the muscles involved, how does it affect your golf swing?
Do you ever feel like you are missing something in the length of your drive? It’s probably an issue stemming from a weak gluteus maximus. First and foremost, the gluteus maximus is the largest and most powerful muscle in the body. Meaning if you want to have a powerful swing and drive the ball you need strong glutes. So if the hip flexors are causing the gluteus maximus to be weak and inhibited you are missing a lot of the length in your drive that you could have.
How many of us have an issue with swaying or sliding? There is a muscle called the gluteus medius, it’s involved in lateral stabilization. Meaning these muscles stabilize you side to side. Another issue is if your gluteus medius is weak, when you have the power from your gluteus maximus if you cannot stabilize the power and transfer it to the core then you will leak power and lose length on your drive here as well. One simple way to tell if your gluteus medius are weak (not the only way to tell but an easy one) is to stand on one leg. If you start to fall fairly quickly then you may have a weakness.
The hip flexors also assist in adduction of the legs. Basically they help pull the legs together. This is in direct opposition of the gluteus medius which abducts the legs or moves them away from the center of the body. Meaning the hip flexors, specifically the pectineus, is restricting the movements of the gluteus medius causing it to be weak and inhibited just as the hip flexors are causing the weakness and inhibition in the gluteus maximus.
How about your low back feeling like you pulled something or just worn out at the end of a round? The abdominals are inhibited and weak when you are dealing with LCS. The anterior pelvic tilt caused by LCS forces the abdominals the sit in a stretched position. When the abdominals and the core are weak your body cannot properly transfer power between the lower and upper body.
Most of what we have talked about so far has been just on forward and backward movement and side to side. We cannot forget rotational movement as well. The hip flexors, specifically the psoas attaches to the lumbar spine. When the psoas on one of the body is engaged it helps to resist rotation. If these muscles are tight and shortened they cause a lack of the ability to resist rotation. And it becomes even more difficult for the body to create this rotation when you are in golf posture. So the body will do what is has to do to create the rotation you are asking of it. Meaning is forces you to stand up (known as early extension) or the body will find other ways to create the rotation.
The opposite of the weak and inhibited abdominals is the tight and shortened muscles of the low back. Just as the hip flexors affect the glutes, so do the muscles of the low back affect the abdominals. These muscles being sitting in a tightened state also means they are more prone to injury since they don’t like to move.
I love the human body because it will do what it takes to create the movement we ask of it. I hate the human body for that as well. As we repetitively do these movements we teach the body that this is way to create that movement. The new pattern can sometimes have a drawback. The drawbacks include incorrect firing patterns of the muscle and pain, which go hand in hand.
The hip flexors play an integral role in being able to execute a great golf swing and staying pain free. Next week I will post exercises, mobility drills, and stretches you can do to counteract these issues.
A lot of times people assume that we trainers eat what we want and don’t worry about what we eat. This could not be further from the truth. There are some out there that don’t worry about what they eat, but most I know and have talked to about this watch what they eat in some way. I started using the MyFitnessPal app to see how hard it was to truly count calories and hold myself accountable with the food I eat. Funny enough it was hard in the beginning, but for a very short time. As I became more accustomed to the MyFitnessPal app I found it to only take a couple of minutes each day to keep track of what I put into my body. Here are three takeaways from my experience.
Lesson 1 –
It truly is calories in and calories out. The average person is supposed to eat about 2000 calories per day. If you eat more calories than your 2000 then you gain wait. If you eat less, then you are going to lose weight. But not all foods are equal when it comes to calories. Nutrient dense foods allow you to eat more with less total calorie consumption. This usually means vegetables instead of bread. If you are like me you like to eat… a lot. So that I can feel full I eat vegetables where I can. Things like spinach and carrots can fill you up while keeping calories low. Making smarter choices can be difficult, but as long as you hit your correct numbers when it comes to total calories you will be okay. The great thing about the MyFitnessPal app is when you first set it up you it will tell you how many calories you should eat each day to achieve the goal you input into the app.
Lesson 2 –
Hit you protein numbers. Going off of lesson 1, fats, carbs, and protein are all important. The issue is most of us don’t actually get enough protein. There are many different studies out there showing how much protein people should get from, a sedentary individual to an athlete. For most of us I suggest around .8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. The problem is when you start tracking your food, you will notice that you are probably way off of that number for protein. When I started using MyFitnessPal to count calories and keep track of the food I eat, I realized how low I actually was. It is hard to build muscle if you are not eating enough protein. I added protein to get to my number and watched my strength increase and weight drop.
If you wonder how much protein you should have or just more information on protein check out this article I wrote :
All About Protein
Lesson 3 –
If you are serious about weight loss you have to track your food. As a trainer I am not around my clients all day long. We can talk during sessions about what they eat, but there is only so much that we can go over. And who knows if they are being 100% honest. With MyFitnessPal we can see what each other is eating and have accountability to each other. Plus I can see if they aren’t being honest with me and their selves. How is that you may ask? If they come to me wondering why they aren’t losing weight, we can look at MyFitnessPal and if everything they eat and enter shows that they are eating the right number of calories but no weight loss is occurring, there is something amiss. They may not be putting everything into the app or maybe they aren’t actually eating enough.
As long as you actually put some time into learning to use the app in the beginning you will find it very easy to use. Then you must consistently use they app and track your food. If you do this you can see some amazing results.