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October 25 2012

2:05 PM

Golf fitness: Physical side of swing

By Sean Cochran, Golf Fitness Improved scoring, longer drives, better ball striking, and overall performance is a process the majority of amateur golfers adhere to on a yearly basis. The process of swing improvement typically entails consistent instruction and structured practice sessions. But a section of swing improvement the amateur golfer at times overlooks is the physical side of the golf swing. The PGA TOUR professional recognizes the role the body plays in the execution of a proficient swing, speed development, and overall performance during competition. At this juncture in modern day golf instruction, the amateur player is now becoming aware of the role in which the body plays in the execution of the golf swing. As a result of this awareness about the “physical side” of the golf swing, developing the body around the golf swing has become an integral part of modern day swing improvement programs. The amateur player must recognize in order to execute a proficient golf swing certain levels of joint mobility, flexibility, muscular strength, endurance, and power is required from the body. These physical parameters allow the golfer to execute each phase of the swing in an efficient manner. If the golfer is limited physically, the ability to execute a proficient swing will most likely be limited resulting in the development of compensation patterns in attempt to overcome these physical dysfunctions affecting the golf swing. The starting point of introducing golf fitness training into the amateur’s swing improvement program is to understand what joints need to be mobile, and what muscles require flexibility in order to execute the athletic actions of the golf swing. The ankle, hip, thoracic spine (area between shoulder blades), shoulder, and wrist are joints requiring mobility. The muscles surrounding these joint must be flexible in order to allow these joints to operate correctly and allow the golfer to move through the required ranges of motion within the golf swing. The majority of physical dysfunctions affecting the amateur’s golf swing relative to mobility and flexibility center upon the hip, thoracic spine and shoulder. That being said, a good starting point to the introduction of golf fitness training is to provide the amateur player with exercises for these areas of the body. Three very good golf fitness exercises utilized at the professional level of golf are Spiders, Cat-in-the-Wheel, and Posterior Shoulder Capsule Stretch. These golf fitness exercises address three common “problem” areas for many golfers relative to the mobility and flexibility requirements of the golf swing. Spiders (Dynamic Hip Mobility): Place yourself in a standard push-up position, back flat, hands shoulder width apart, and eyes looking down. Begin by lifting your left foot and placing it outside the left hand. Slowly attempt to press your left forearm down towards the floor, keeping your left hand in place. Lower your forearm as low to the floor as possible, and hold for one second. Return to the starting position of the exercise and repeat with your right hand and foot. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions. Do not move the position of your hands throughout the exercise, keep a flat back, and do not lift your glutes towards the ceiling. Cat-in-the-Wheel (Thoracic Spine Mobility & Lat Flexibility): Place both of your hands on the floor directly under the shoulders. Position both of your knees directly under the hips, eyes looking down and back flat. Begin by extending your lower back upward toward the ceiling by lifting the hips. Continue to arch the lower back until it is rounded. Slowly pull your hips backward toward the heels keeping the hands in place. Continue to pull the hips backwards until the glutes are resting on your heels. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Keep the back rounded and hands in place throughout the entire exercise. Posterior Shoulder Capsule Stretch (Shoulder Mobility): Lay with the right hip in contact with the floor, legs straight, and the right upper arm perpendicular to the shoulder capsule. Bend the right elbow to 90-degrees so that the right upper arm is resting on the floor. While keeping the shoulder capsule and right upper arm on the floor, grasp your right wrist with the left hand. Slowly press the right forearm toward the floor. Continue to press the forearm down until a stretch is felt in the right shoulder and hold for 30 seconds. Discontinue immediately if a pinch is felt in the right shoulder, and do not allow the right shoulder to elevate or roll forward during the exercise. Repeat with the opposite arm and pay strict attention to technique with this exercise, go very slowly with the pressing of the forearm and do not aggressively press the forearm to the floor. To learn more about Sean Cochran and his golf fitness training exercises and golf fitness programs go to http://www.seancochran.com
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