The Importance of Flexibility, Stability and Mobility For Golf
The strength and conditioning pyramid outlines the foundations for a good conditioning program beginning with flexibility, mobility and stability. This will be followed by functional movement, strength, power and specific sport related exercises. Athletes do not move up the pyramid until they are proficient at the base. Most amateur golfers are limited in their flexibility, mobility and stability and with improvement in these areas they will find their swing improve before they even begin to lift any weight.
Flexibility refers to the length of a muscle, is best achieved through stretching and is only one part in overall mobility. Flexibility aids in reducing swing compensations, maintaining posture and gaining complete upper and lower body rotation. Flexibility helps joint mobility and any tightness will limit the range of motion within a joint.
Stability refers to the proper alignment of the bones within their joints and in the overall structure of the body. With improper alignment, the joints will not move correctly and this place greater stress on muscles, ligaments and tendons which take up the slack when moving. The most important joints for golf include: ankles, hips, thoracic spine, shoulder girdle and wrists.
Mobility refers to how freely a joint can move throughout its full range of motion. Many factors affect the mobility of a joint which include muscle length (flexibility) and muscle tension.
It is important to have rotation in the thoracic spine (upper and middle back) in order to make an effective shoulder turn and disassociate the upper body from the lower body. Creating this disassociation will aid in a better movement, reduce compensations and help to reduce injury.
Hip mobility is important both internally and externally throughout the golf swing to help provide effective rotation and reduce the need for compensatory movements during the swing. Poor hip rotation generally produces a slide or a sway, can cause a lack of speed, control and path issues. On top of this, poor hip rotation can cause the lumbar (lower spine) to over rotate, placing excessive strain on the region and could eventually cause injury.
Core stability aids in maintaining posture throughout the swing as well as helping to generate speed. Any weakness in the core could cause faulty movement patterns and swing faults such as a flat shoulder plane (standing up in the backswing), coming over the top and collapsing into the downswing.
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When starting a gym program ensure you have been cleared by your Doctor and seek out a professional fitness expert to ensure you are doing the correct things for your body.