My Golf Buddies Belly Laugh Watching My Stiff and Choppy Golf Swing - How Can I Fix It?
We would all like to have a fluid, beautiful swing like Adam Scott, power off the tee like Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, and the ability to repeat that swing round after round, day after day.
But what is holding back most amateurs from that silky smooth and powerful swing?
Most likely, it's your hamstrings and your low back.
We are going to explore the connection between your hammies, your low back and that less than PGA pro, Golf Magazine type golf swing.
Let's start with your hamstrings. Most of us think we know where our hamstrings are located and what they do, but do we really? We're always hearing about baseball players, football players and basketball players coming down with hamstring injuries. It's a common problem in a lot of sports, including golf.
What are they and what do they do?
The hamstrings are a group of muscles located on the back part of your upper leg. The hamstring group consists of three individual muscles: the semimembrinosus, semitendinosus, and the biceps femoris. To make it easier on my typing and to your eyes we'll just keep it simple and call them your hamstrings. The function of the hamstrings in your body is pretty complex.
I'll try to simplify it for you. First off, your hamstrings bend your knee. Also, your hamstrings help stabilize your hip area. So when you are performing almost any activity the hamstrings are essentially helping to hold your hips in place. They are great stabilizers. So the next time you are on the dance floor trying to do your best impression of Fred Astaire or John Travolta, think about how hard those hammies are working!
In addition to bending the knee and stabilizing the hips, your hamstrings help with your rotation of your leg internally and externally. Let's try something. Right now, stand up and turn your foot inward (pigeon toed) and then rotate your foot out (duck toed). These two foot/leg movements use the hamstrings to make the inward and outward movements happen. This is certainly not a complete list, but it should give you insight to how involved the hamstrings are when it comes to the human body.
What about my aching low back!
I think we all know where the low back is located, especially if you are a golfer. If you experience low back issues like half of the golfers in the world, you intimately know where the low back is and how it affects your daily life.
The low back is essentially a group of small muscles. All these little muscles together comprise the lower back region of the body. The lower back muscles have a lot of functions. To start off, the lower back muscles help stabilize your spine at all times, especially during movement. In addition, the lower back muscles are used extensively to rotate the torso and to bend your hips forward/backward. Keep in mind that the lower back muscles of your body are probably active and functioning 99% of the time. They are worked a ton! Every day. When's the last time you pulled weeds in the backyard for hours? How did your low back and hammies feel the next day?
Alright now, what about that choppy swing my golf buddies give me a hard time about?
Now, onto the golf swing. The golf swing is essentially a total body movement that requires the body to move through multiple planes of motion. The body has to stabilize your moving body, accelerate aggressively on the downswing, rotate quickly, and decelerate in a very short order during the golf swing. This causes enormous stress on the body and results in fatigue all over. For some of us that fatigue sets in on the range, and for others it's after a weekend of 72 holes and a few hands of poker with the guys. For the PGA Tour pros, hopefully it's after walking up the 18th on Sunday in front of TV cameras and thousands of spectators.
The connection is that hamstrings and the low back are working extremely hard during the golf swing, and quite often either one or the other (low back or hamstrings or even both) gets "tight." The tightness we talk about is something most all of you have felt at one time or another. And I think it would be safe to say that in addition to feeling these muscles getting tight you know what effect it has on your game.
So, knowing that these two body parts are connected to the swing, now what?
Here's why the Golf Channel is not going to be calling you anytime soon to exclaim about your beautiful swing?.until you fix a few things.
Both the low back and hamstrings become "tight" from swinging a club. When you are actively using both of these muscle groups in the golf swing, these muscles get "tired". What do I mean when I say "tired?" Exactly that! They get tired, meaning the muscles get fatigued. They have no more gas left in the tank. And when muscles get fatigued they don't function properly or efficiently, and they shorten and become restricted. This is essentially the body's way of telling you that your muscles are tired and they need a rest. It is also a "defense mechanism" of sorts by the body to prevent injury. If you continue to "work" muscles that are tired they will eventually become injured. So when you are performing the golf swing for an extended amount of time, say, for instance, 18 holes or a long practice session, your low back and hamstrings are going to get tired. If they get tired enough, they will become "tight." And that is the point where these muscles start to affect your swing. Your swing looks stiff and choppy.
So it's the fatigue that really makes my swing look stiff?
The golf swing requires your body to move through a pretty complex range of motion. This range of motion is essentially the back swing to the follow through. This large range of motion allows the golfer to swing the club on the correct path, create club head speed, and swing the club with the correct timing. Ultimately, it provides the golfer with the correct golf swing. In order for all these movements to occur in the right sequence, all the muscles of the body must be "loose" and have their normal ranges of motion available to them. It's like someone taking most of your clubs away before a match. No putter. No driver (probably a benefit for most golfers). No wedges. You are probably not going to score as well without all your critical clubs available to you.
Without your hammies and your low back working with a full tank of gas, you've got your stiff and choppy golf swing. This results in reduced club head speed and less likelihood of swinging the club on the correct swing plane or with the correct timing. Amazing when you think how these two muscles groups that are associated to the golf swing can hinder your performance if they are "tight."
So that's why I haven't gotten much better after all those lessons!
We all need a coach or a trainer. Phil Mickelson certainly has a swing coach, a short game coach, and I help him with his physical training.
What I'm saying is that without training your body to match your swing, your improvement in your swing will be limited by the strength, flexibility and endurance of your hamstrings and low back area.
I would suggest the implementation of a golf-specific training program that assists in getting the body ready to swing a golf club. This type of program focuses on developing the proper ranges of motion in these muscle groups for the golf swing. This type of program assists in developing the needed strength, endurance, and power required of the golf swing. In addition, a program like this can assist in the prevention of injuries to the lower back and other parts of the body. Finding a quality, golf-specific, PGA Tour-proven program can be difficult.
That's where we come in. Our programs have helped golfers from amateurs to a Masters Champion. They are available to you at www.bioforcegolf.com. Programs at our site are geared towards developing your body around the golf swing. They essentially are swing tools working on the piece of machinery that swings that 450 cc driver you just bought! The programs are "tour proven" and work for both the professional and the amateur. They do not take long to perform (15 minutes a day). And I think it is safe to say anyone serious about their golf game will spend fifteen minutes a day with a program that could lower their handicap by 30%. Don't you think? Thirty percent!
Check it out and I am sure you will agree.
Sean Cochran is one of the most recognized golf fitness instructors in the world today. He travels the PGA Tour regularly with 2004 Masters Champion Phil Mickelson. He has made many of his golf tips, golf instruction and golf swing improvement techniques available to amateur golfers on the website http://www.bioforcegolf.com Check out his manual and DVD, Your Body & Your Swing, (http://www.bioforcegolf.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=93) on BioForceGolf.com. To contact Sean, you can email him at email@example.com.
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