Spring is coming here in the High Country. We have just a couple of more weekends for skiing and many people are ready to start golfing. Many golfers are spending a lot of money on lessons and high tech equipment to improve their game, which can help for certain. However, the most important piece of equipment you can work on is your body. To improve your game and stay healthy for the season it is important to move well to swing your clubs safely and efficiently. Here are 4 areas you can look at to improve your game and stay healthy this season:
- Hip Mobility: One of the biggest issues we see in golfers is the inability to turn fully without compensation. The main part of your turn should come from 2 areas your hip rotation and your thoracic spine (mid back). Without a good mobility in these areas we compensate by rotating more in our lumbar spine (lower back) which can lead to pain, or compensating to get our club back. This can lead to an inconsistent swing. To test this, lie on your stomach with your legs together and knees bent to 90 degrees. You should be able to drop your feet apart 30-40 degrees from center. If you are unable to go this far your hip rotation can be limiting your swing. In many golfers this may be 0-10 degrees.
- Thoracic Mobility: As I noted above, rotation of your mid back is another key area of having a smooth full turn. Thoracic rotation should be about 40-45 degrees. This combined with your hip rotation will give you the 80-90 degrees of turn you need. One way to look at this is to go on your hands and knees and rock back onto your heels. Put a hand behind your back and rotate. Being on your heels forces most of your mobility into your mid back. You should be able to move about 45 degrees from center in both directions. If you aren’t moving this far check out a couple of exercises from our thoracic mobility series a few weeks ago. http://wp.me/p3PbeT-rX , http://wp.me/p3PbeT-rI, http://wp.me/p3PbeT-rp.
- Balance: Another key area to look at is your balance or ability to have a strong single leg stance. Transfer of weight from one foot to another is one of the keys to a good swing. Even though you are never actually standing on one while golfing, if you cannot do it solidly you will probably only perform a partial weight shift during your swing. This will add variability in your swing or may put you in a reverse pivot swing.
To check your balance, stand on one leg and bring your opposite leg up to a 90 degree angle. Can you hold this position solidly. If you can try it with your eyes closed. If you are not solid with these tasks practice your balance.
- Hip Strength: The last area to talk about today is hip strength. The muscles in our hips are vitally important in the golf swing. They connect our legs to our core, allowing transfer of power. They help stabilize and control our hip rotation both in the acceleration and decceleration of the swing. They also provide pelvic and postural stability to help in our set up. There are many hip muscles and tests to check them. One test is the single leg glut bridge. This tests for significant hip weakness and poor glut activation and control. To do this test lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Pull one knee up to your chest. Bridge up using the down leg. If you cannot do this easily on both sides individually, or get cramping in the back of your leg, this may indicate poor use of your hip muscles.
These are 4 things you might want to look into to improve the physical part of your golf game. There are, of course many other physical issues which may affect your game. We will examine these throughout the spring and summer. If you do find some of these areas deficient, there are many ways to work on them. Some of these exercises have been in our blog previously, sometimes a more specific program can be helpful. If you have any questions about how to physically improve your golf game let us know.