Every golfer knows you need to be flexible to play golf! Flexibility is one of the physical prerequisites that will allow you to get your body into position to execute a repeatable and powerful golf swing. It is what is lacking in the vast majority of amateur golfers at any age. For the purpose of this blog we are going to use the terms flexibility and mobility synonymously. Technically they are different but at the end of the day you need both to move the way you need to – to play golf the way you want to.
“Until you can get into a position, until you can move the joints the way they need to move, it will be very difficult to enhance your power and hit the ball with consistency. If we look at most people that struggle with golf it’s because they lack mobility.” _Mike Boyle, World Famous Strength & Conditioning Coach
In other words the Tin Man would not make a good golfer!
Everyone’s flexibility needs vary but the following 3 stretches using the Swiss Ball will do every golfer a world of good.
Stretch #1: Pectoralis Stretch-The Chest
As you can see in the diagram above, the muscles of the chest attach to your arm. If they are too short and tight they will limit your ability to get your arms up high enough to set the club. We test for this using the 90/90 test, both standing straight up and in golf posture.
*A golfer should have adequate shoulder flexibiltiy in the chest to allow their forearm to go past the angle of their spine (>90°) in the 90/90 Test.
If you lack sufficient flexibility to perform this motion on the trail side arm, the following swing characteristics may result:
- loss of posture
- flat shoulder plane
- early extension (standing up and moving your hips towards the ball too early)
- flying elbow
- Theseall are a result in effort to get the right arm back-trying to get your arm into an externally rotated position-which you physically can’t do.
If you lack sufficient flexibility to perform this motion on the lead side arm, the following swing characteristics may result:
- Chicken wing on the lead arm (downswing)
- Difficulty keeping the club on plane-scoop
Stretch #2: Quadratus Lumborum-The Side
As you can see in the diagram above, the QLO muscles attach the top of your pelvis to your spine. If they are too short and tight they will limit your ability to rotate the trunk in the opposite direction. We test for this using the seated trunk rotation test.
The Seated Trunk Rotation Test is designed to identify how much rotational mobility is present in the thoraco-lumbar spine. Good separation between the upper and lower body is important to help generate speed and maintain a stable posture during the golf swing.
Many golfers lack true thoracic spine rotation. The lack of rotation may cause them to create excessive lumbar spine rotational forces or over use the shoulder joint to compensate for limited thoracic spine mobility.
*A golfer should have adequate shoulder flexibiltiy in the QLO and mobiltiy in the T-Spine to be able to rotate the trunk 45 degrees in each direction.
If you lack this ability the following swing characteristics might result:
- stand up in the backswing
- loss of posture
- flat shoulder plane
- reverse spine angle
- or sway
Stretch #3: Hip Flexor Stretch-Quads/Psoas
As you can see in the diagram above, the psoas muscle attaches the top of your femur to your spine. The other hip flexors attach your femur to your pelvis. If they are too short and tight they will limit your ability to control your pelvis. We test for this using the pelvic tilt test.
The pelvic tilt occurs in the downswing portion of the golf swing. At impact the pelvis goes into a posterior tilt. (It’s just hard to see because they’re moving so fast.)
*A golfer should have adequate flexibiltiy in the hip flexors to be able to control pelvic tilt and pelvic tuck. It’s critical to control pelvic tilt in order to stay in posture throughout the downswing as well as transfer power to the ball.
If you don’t have the ability to control pelvic tilt and tuck the following swing characteristics may result:
- Thrusting your hips towards the golf ball on the downswing (early extension of the hips)
- and coming out of posture (stand up too early). The result is your lower body gets in the way of your upper body and your hit the ball out of sequence.
- LOSS OF POWER
The hip flexors are know as the functional antogonists to the gluteus maximus. (short-tight hip flexors cause long-weak hip extensors). Since the glutes are known as the King of The Swing (because they are the body’s largest and most powerful muscle, in order to be a powerful ball striker you need access to them. Tight hip flexors causes loss of access to the glutes and will result in a loss of power! PERIOD!
Brett’s Bottom Line:
Performing these three stretches reularly will help you gain the golf flexbility you need to get in and maintain posture throughout the swing. This gives you the ability to perform a repeatable and powerful golf swing with less likelyhood of injury.
How To Pick A Swiss Ball?
The only ball I endorse is the Duraball Pro. It is by far, the best ball I’ve used since 2000!
What Size Should I Get?
When selecting size, the ball should be big enough so that when sitting on a fully inflated ball your hips and in-line or higher than your knees. Never lower!
Swiss Ball Size Guide
|YOUR HEIGHT||BALL HEIGHT||BALL SIZE|
|Up to 4’10″ (145cm)||18 inches (45cm)||Small|
|4’8″ to 5’5″ (140 – 165cm)||22 inches (55cm)||Medium|
|5’6″ to 6’0″ (165 – 185cm)||26 inches (65cm)||Large|
|6’0″ to 6’5″ (185 – 195cm)||30 inches (75cm)||Extra Large|