As golfers we come across many of our common enemies during the golf swing but there are a few that rear their ugly heads more than others. The most common swing flaws that golfers suffer from are Loss of Posture or Early Extension and Flat Shoulder Plane (part of loss of posture). 64% of golfers have Loss of Posture or Early Extension and 45% of golfers have Flat Shoulder plane. All of these swing flaws can cause two typical miss hits, the block to the right and a hook to the left. Most teaching professionals have the daily task of trying to cure these problems. They are forced to apply Band-Aids to their clients swing by adjusting the grip, the set up or rerouting the swing path. Sadly, these swing fundamentals may not be the real cause. It is more likely that your body is at fault due to poor posture, lack of rotational ability and bad flexibility.
Loss of Posture is defined as any significant deviation from the body’s original set up position during the golf swing. This loss of posture can affect all aspects of the golf swing including timing, balance and rhythm.
Early Extension is defined as any forward thrust of the lower body towards the golf ball during the downswing. This swing fault causes the arms and club to get stuck behind your body during the downswing, and forces your torso to raise up and elevate through the hitting zone.
Flat Shoulder Plane describes the plane of the shoulders becoming flat as the golfer turns to the top of their backswing. Flat shoulder plane occurs when the shoulders turn on a more horizontal plane rather than the original spine angle.
The way that we are going to begin addressing the muscles that may be responsible for these flaws, is by conducting an in depth golf fitness assessment screen. After the screens are completed then we can begin to create a plan that will remedy the issues. The best way to do this is to locate a TPI Certified Golf Fitness Professional and have a full body screen which will determine if it is your body that is the problem or something technical in your swing.
After an assessment has been completed and issues have been identified we begin correcting the issues by using a 4 step process called the Corrective Exercise Continuum. The Fitness Professional uses the Corrective Exercise Continuum to systematically correct the muscular imbalances that cause these swing flaws. For our purposes we are going to discuss the first 3 steps as well as some common practices that are used.
Step 1, we start off by breaking up adhesions or tightness in the identified muscles below by using a foam roller to massage the area. You will know when you have found adhesions from the discomfort in the area that is being rolled. Try to roll on the adhesion anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds or until the discomfort subsides by 50%. Use a slow and steady pace to foam roll back and forth on these muscles first.
Step 2, would be to lengthen or stretch the muscles that we rolled the knots out of. Each stretch should be held right at the point of discomfort in a static position for 30 to 60 seconds, try not to bounce because it can cause muscle fiber damage to the area. Stretch these muscles that you rolled using these stretches.
Piriformis Lie on your back and draw 1 knee toward the opposite shoulder in a diagonal manner then hold for 30-60 seconds
Tensor Fascia Latae Lie on your back and turn 1 leg until it is dissecting your body in half then holding for 30-60 seconds
Hip Flexors Get your body into a split stance, thrust your pelvis forward until you feel the tightness in the back hip then bend you back knee until it almost touches the floor and hold for 30-60 seconds
Stand upright in a split stance with both hands on a wall. Lunge your weight onto your front leg and press the back heel into the floor for a stretch. Hold 30-60 seconds
Latissimus Dorsi Get into kneeling position and place both hands on a stability ball. Lean your body forward onto the ball and feel the stretch in the side and the middle of the back. Hold for 30-60 seconds
Step 3, is to reactivate the underactive muscles to help restore normal muscular function, increase strength and decrease restrictions during the golf swing. To strengthen these area we use isolated strengthening exercises and positional isometrics. Try to complete 15 repetitions per side with a slow controlled pace. With these exercises we are trying to increase strength and stability while creating separation between the upper body and lower body. This regimen should be repeated 2-3 days per week on nonconsecutive days for 3 weeks.
DISSASSOCIATION PLANKS: Dissassociation planks are great to build core strength and stability.
Execution: Start in a pushup position with your hands close together. Draw in your belly button to activate your core then raise 1 arm straight out to the side until parallel to the floor. Return your arm to the starting position and then immediately, in an explosive manner drive the opposite knee up to your chest on the side where you raised the arm. Continue to alternate left side, right side for a 60 second time frame and complete 2 sets.
PRONE COBRA: Prone Cobra is used to create extension in the thoracic spine and put the golfer into the best position to rotate efficiently.
Execution: Lie face down on the floor with your arms close at your side and your palms facing up. Try to draw in the belly button and then bridge the chest off of the floor. During the chest bridge, try to raise the arms off the floor and turn the palms until they face the floor. Complete 15 repetitions holding each one for 1 second count at the top. Complete 2 sets of 15 repetitions.
SUPINE FLOOR BRIDGE: Supine floor bridge is used to help create extension in the lumbar spine which is needed in the loading of weight in the back swing and full extension at the moment of impact during the downswing.
Execution: Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your heels as close to your butt as possible. Use the thought of pulling your belt buckle upward toward your face which will flatten out the curve of your lumbar spine. With the lower back pressed flat into the floor, bridge your pelvis off of the floor as high as you can in the air trying to create a convex angle in the pelvis. Squeeze the gluteus muscles as hard as you can at the top. Complete 15 repetitions holding each one for 1 second count at the top. Complete 2 sets of 15 repetitions.
LYING OPEN BOOKS: Lying open books are used to create rotation and mobility in the thoracic spine as well as separation between the thoracic and the lumbar spine.
Execution: Lie down on your side with both of your knees drawn up into a fetal position. Use the arm on the side that you are lying on to grab both of your knees for stability. Use the hand of your free arm to grab your shirt buttons and pull your thorax back and try to lie your back flat on the floor. Complete 15 repetitions holding each one for 1 second. Complete 2 sets of 15 repetitions.
Quadruped Reach Backs: QP reach backs help to create scapular mobility, thoracic rotation, a lengthening of the anterior upper body muscles and promote good posture.
Execution: Get into a quadruped position with your weight distributed equally between your hands and your knees. Place your trail arm hand on the back of your head and draw in your belly button. Try to rotate the elbow and chest as high toward the sky as possible without allowing the lower body to shift and create space. Complete 15 repetitions and hold each one in the top position for 1 second. Complete 2 sets of 15 repetitions.
SUPINE STABILITY BALL ROTATIONS: Supine stability ball rotations are used to create rotation and mobility in the lumbar spine as well as separation between the lumbar and the thoracic spine.
Execution: Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet elevated upon a stability ball. Place your arms out to the side in a letter T position with your palms facing down. Press your heels into the ball and allow your feet, knees. Lower back and stability ball rotate as far to one side as it can. Be sure not to allow the opposite shoulder to raise up from the ground. Complete 15 repetitions doing 1 side at a time. Complete 2 sets of 15 repetitions.
PRISONER SQUATS: Prisoner squats are great to strengthen the thighs and calves, create flexibility in the Thoracolumbar fascia as well as create a feeling of full extension in the pelvis such as at the MOI during the golf swing.
Execution: Start in a standing position with your feet shoulders width apart, place both hands places behind your head. Take a deep breath and make a full squat while keeping good posture. When you reach the bottom of your squat, exhale and return to standing and finish up onto the toes while trying to drive your pelvis up and forward for a full hip extension. Complete 15 repetitions and hold each one at the top position for 1 second. Complete 2 sets of 15 repetitions.
These first 3 steps of the Corrective Exercise Continuum will be key elements in returning your body to proper function as well as a functional and effective golf swing.
For any additional questions or comments please feel free to contact me via email at James@Coregolfperformance.com