Core Muscle Activation and the Golf Swing
It’s not uncommon to hear about injuries in various sporting events such as football, hockey, or any full-on contact sport. But, injury often occurs in non-contact sports as well, such as golf. The reason is because all movement requires the use of muscle and tendons. And, if not used properly, a long-term injury can result in a sport often thought as casual.
As with any physical activity, proper use of muscles is vital in preventing injury. With golf, the core muscle groups come in play and need to be applied in a safe manner. Core muscle activation is something that physical therapists often work on with patient recovering from injuries.
Read on to learn what muscles need attention, and just how you can give them proper focus to help prevent injury, and quite possibly, improve your game.
The Latissimus Dorsi Muscle Group
Otherwise known as the lats, this group of muscles covers the greater portion of the back, midway on each side. They play a large role in our posture, as well as aiding in the proper movement in a golf swing by allowing the shoulder blade to glide in an appropriate manner and keep the shoulder down.
If you improperly elevate the shoulder and it shrugs, it disengages the lat muscles which could lead to injury during your swing. Therefore, learning how to correctly activate your lats and maintain it right in the follow through is imperative.
Follow this easy drill to learn and feel proper lat muscle activation:
• Sit upright in a chair, with your feet flat on the floor
• Cross the arms, with your hands placed on your chest
• Shrug your shoulder, then depress
• Roll your shoulder blade in toward your spine
Make sure to keep yourself from tensing up during the practice. This particular drill will help to improve posture and proper muscle activation, as well as improve your golf swing by encouraging the hips to remain stationery.
The Gluteal Muscle Group
The gluteal area, otherwise known as the glutes, is found in the buttocks and hips, a source of power in the golf swing. If you are swinging properly, you will feel these being used in both the back and down swings as they stabilize you. It also works in aiding the transfer of weight during your swing.
Many golfers, when attempting the swing and transfer of weight, admit they don’t notice the glutes activating. This is due to the wrong muscle group being utilized, specifically the quadriceps, and the weight on the ball of the foot, rather than the heel.
Take a look at an example of a glute drill to help you understand how it feels to activate the glutes, leading to a proper swing:
• Place your hand on the back of a chair, using your golf setup posture
• Center your weight above your ankles
• Lift your foot off the floor
• Push your body weight into the heel that remains on the floor
• Bend your knee and let your hips drop slightly
• Hold this position, and count to 3 (this is when you should start feeling your glute activate)
• Slowly push up again
At this point, you should really be feeling your glute working. If your quad is burning, then you are not doing it right and most likely placing your weight on the ball of your foot, not the heel. Try again and focus on placing your weight on the heel.
Once you know you are doing this exercise properly, switch to the other foot and repeat.
The oblique muscles are found in the abdomen, running from just beneath the pectoral area to the top of the hip. They help a golfer with rotation of the hips.
Rotation of the hips plays a large role in the down swing for a golfer, and again should place weight on the heel. The following oblique drill will you identify the activation of your obliques:
• Lying on the floor, place your hands behind your head
• Keeping your lower body and hips stationery, raise your shoulder blades up until you are in a crunch (you should start to feel proper activation)
• Twist the upper body to the side and hold for 2 seconds
• Relax and twist to the other side and hold again
You can do this exercise flat on the floor, or on a large exercise ball. Either way, it will give you an idea of how it feels to activate the obliques properly. Now, you should be able to stand up and activate them by simply tensing your abdomen area. The next step would be to apply this when rotating your hips in a golf swing.
The exercises mentioned above are just a sample of what you can do to improve your golf swing, as well as help protect yourself from injury. Physical therapists have implemented these, as well as a few more to help golfers dealing with injuries. However, you don’t have to wait for an injury for these to benefit your game.