I was on Twitter the other night and someone that I follow (@fit_for_golf) put a poll out. He was looking for topics that people were interested in, in regards to golf fitness.
The response was heavy on mobility and/or stretching.
I immediately thought two things. One is that I was surprised because there is a ton of good info out there. I guess it just isn’t accessible enough for the masses.
The second was that stretching is a really overrated way to improve mobility.
Mobility is the ability to move. Stretching is holding a position for an extended period of time. I have been going nuts lately trying to make this difference clear.
There are many things that influence mobility. Static flexibility is rarely one of them. Mobility is determined by:
1. Joint Alignment
The body has to be in good alignment to move well. When parts are not doing their job, other pieces must take over.
When we train we have to keep things in the places they need to be in. One example is the shoulder. If someone presents with rounded over shoulders, their flexibility and rotation are going to be limited.
Getting this person to train in better alignment is going to get them better and safer results.
2. Adjacent Stability
We want rotation from the hips and upper back in golf. The core/low back is sandwiched in between the two of them. The low back is also a stable joint.
When stability is lost in the low back, we try to find it in either the hips or the upper back. Your tight hips may be due to a weak core. You need strength and stability not mobility.
3. Dynamic Range of Motion
Golfers must move through good ranges of motion. Golf is not played passively and you cannot stretch your way to a birdie. You have to be able to control movement.
Training should incorporate movements that allow you to move through better ranges. If all you are doing is stretching then you are going to have trouble when it is time for you to perform the movement.
Here are some specific tips that can help improve your mobility for golf
Tuck the Chin
The spine is made up of 3 parts- the neck, upper back, and low back into tailbone. When we train with a neutral spine all three need to be addressed.
For some reason, everyone forgets the neck. The notion of eyes up has plagued weight rooms for way too long. You actually do not want to look up, unless you are on your back.
You want to look straight ahead. Straight ahead is actually slightly down.
Try this: Stand upright and look straight ahead. Do not let your head move, push the hips back, and let your chest come over your toes. If you truly did not move your head then you will be looking at the ground. This is also a deadlift position.
Where you look is irrelevant but you have to keep the chin tucked. Breaking neutral spine decreases core stability and upper back rotation. Staying neutral enhances both.
Brace the Core
To brace your core, imagine someone is going to punch you in the stomach. That tightness you create is a brace. Now you still need to be able to breathe but that is what a brace is.
This can be trained really well in the weight room because everything is more controlled. The golf swing is really dynamic and harder to hold that brace in.
Train it well and you can use it in your swing and training to improve rotation.
Stabilize the Hips
This is a trick for strictly the upper back. I had mentioned before that the hips are a mobile joint. They still are but again this is a trick.
Find a way to lock your hips in place, a bungee or a partner works well. Brace your core and then rotate at the upper back. This added stability allows you to get into ranges that you might not have. Reinforce it by creating that stability yourself.
Roll the Lats
The lats are a muscle group that extends from the low back, up the torso, and into the arm pit.
This is a huge coverage for a muscle, which means they have a lot of influence over that area.
Rolling out the lats is one of the best ways to release tension in that muscle group and get some free mobility.