'Tis the season, to golf that is. With the weather changing and becoming warmer, many of us are eager to get out on the course and start swinging away. If you are like us, then you will find that you have been excited all winter to golf, only to quickly become disappointed once you start. You may find that you are stiff, achy, and generally out of shape. Flexibility and range of motion are nowhere to be found so the only way to keep the golf game going is to compensate your swing for something that looks more like a tin man without his daily oil.
Now although compensating may keep the game going and you on the course, it will more than likely hurt your score and cost you a bet (if you are that kind of golfer). Just like any other sport, golfing takes consistency and practice. You can't golf twice a year in the summer and expect your game or swing to be any better. Golf is a very unique sport and when it comes to the movement patterns required, it is almost as complicated as it can get.
Off the top of our heads, here is a short list of movements that a golf swing requires:
- Ankle mobility and stability
- Knee stability
- Hip mobility and stability
- Trunk stability
- Thoracic extension and rotation
- Shoulder mobility and stability
- Wrist mobility
- Cervical rotation
"Moving effectively does not mean you are moving efficiently.
Effective only creates more dysfunction, effective gets you hurt."- Gray Cook.
Think about your swing; is 'effective' getting you the most distance, drive, and smoothest transition, or is it just getting you by? We understand that very few of us are trying to be pro golfers and hardly take our golf game seriously, but we know that if we could shave a few strokes off of our games through exercise and maintenance while at the same time, simply feeling better every day, then count us in!
Now think about your swing on those great days at the range when your stroke feels perfectly effortless. One of the things that makes those awesome swings so sweet, has to do with proprioception - your body's innate sense of the relative position of all its parts, including muscle length. Through an advanced form of flexibility therapy called Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF), especially in combination with other soft-tissue techniques, your body can find more natural ways to move, improve muscle memory, and improve both fine and gross motor control.
To sum up everything, in order to maintain or improve your golf swing, you need to improve your movement and mobility. Soft tissue work such as therapeutic massage and foam rolling are your first step in reducing soft-tissue restriction and adhesion. Then you need to retrain the body on how to move by stretching the tight muscles and activating those that improve your posture and mobility. For those of us who were less-than-faithful with getting into the practice bays this winter, remember; the sooner that you begin addressing imbalances and restrictions, the safer you are from injury. Simply put, reducing soft-tissue restriction and adhesion can help you increase shoulder turn, hip mobility and stability, and ultimately.......your game!
Millie Winder, LMT, NASM-CES
Millie Winder is a Licensed Massage Therapist and has been practicing Massage Therapy for seven years in Colorado. Millie is also a Corrective Exercise Specialist, certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).
Robert Castillo, ACE, FMS-II
Robert has been actively training people and athletes of all different ages, goals and abilities for over 5 years. Robert is currently Performance Coordinator at Valor Christian High School, training with all teams and athletes.