Swing away, with good form!

A Series on Functional Exercises for Golf: 1/3

Hello Golfers,

This article is written to shed some light on correcting the mechanics that effect a more fluid gold swing. When there is tightness in the hips, the golfer will adjust for this by prematurely rotating the torso and shifting the shoulders. This ‘premature rotating’ of the torso before the hips are in position is actually a compromising of golf swing mechanics. Bringing the muscles involved with torso rotation into play before the the hips are in position interferes with the distance that can be attained from the golf swing.

There are certain areas that the golfer must address in order to develop the physical attributes that make for a better golf swing:

  • Flexibility (Range of Motion)
  • Maintenance of Center of Gravity (Balance)
  • Generalized Motor Program Development (Sequencing)
  • Promotion of Good Posture

The exercises presented in this article can help the golfer to improve stability and increase range of motion in the hips. The improved stability and increased range of motion will enable the torso to rotate with minimal restriction. These exercises will also help improve balance with respect to shifting the hips and rotating the torso.

The rotation of the torso depends upon the degree of flexibility/release that is present in the hips. The golfer will “need 60° of hip flexibility (internal hip rotation) for an unimpeded backswing.” There is need for even greater hip flexibility for a proper follow through. “The follow through phase requires sufficient flexibility of both upper quarters and the hips to reach full finish position. Limitations in hip internal or external rotation . . . will not allow the golfer to fully follow through and thus not allow time to fully decelerate the swing.” **** Even though many excellent golfers may have faulty golf grips, all great golfers use their torsos properly.

These series of photos show how to set up drills that will educate the mechanics of hip rotation, internal rotator release and external rotator release. Keeping the hips level during torso rotation will lend to more timely activation (sequencing) of the muscles which drive hip shift and torso rotation.

The rotation of the hips, torso and shoulders must be properly sequenced: i.e. the hips rotate, then the torso and the shoulders finish the rotation. Teaching the body to move ‘in sequence’ and to be more stable will allow for effortless torso and shoulder rotation during the initiation and finishing of the swing.

Cable station torso rotation

Rotation is good for golf
Line up the shoulders so that they are over the hips. The movement addresses torso rotation and release of the internal hip/thigh rotators. Keep the knees seperate.
Rotation is good for golf
This movement educates the hip rotation, torso rotation and inner thigh release necessary for the backswing. Notice how the lead knee turns in slightly.

Backswing

In this position, the feet will not move. This will facilitate the release of the internal hip rotators and the thigh adductors. Keeping the torso upright as torso rotation ensues will engage the core.

The movements shown here are accomplished by using external resistance in order to illicit a core stabilization response. The hips have to stabilize as the internal rotators and the thigh adductors have to release

This movement teaches the body to rotate the hips and torso for optimal golf swing mechanics. The rotation of the hips and torso goes up to a point before the torso/spine and shoulders begin their finishing of the rotation. By teaching the body to be stable up to that point, the torso and shoulders will more effortlessly rotate during the initiation of the swing.

  1. The feet planted
  2. Keep the knees separate
  3. The core engages
  4. The hips and shoulders begin to rotate at the same time.
  5. Repeat this exercise on both sides
  6. The hips stay level and they shift position. This rotation facilitates a release of the internal rotators as the core stabilizes the torso in position for the backswing.
Rotation is good for golf.
With this movement the torso is aligned so that the back knee and the sternum are pointing in the same direction. The shoulders are lined up over the hips.
Rotation is good for golf.
The rotation of the torso occurs due to the coordinated rotation of the hip, knee and ankle. From the finished position, the torso rotates more deeply to finish the swing.

Drive/Followthrough

In this position, the stationary foot will not move. This will facilitate the release of the external hip rotators. Keeping the torso upright as torso rotation ensues will engage the core.

The movements shown here are accomplished by using external resistance in order to illicit a core stabilization response. The hips have to stabilize as the external rotators have to release

This movement teaches the body to rotate the hips and torso for optimal golf swing mechanics in relation to the downswing and followthrough. This drill teaches the body to be stable up to the point where the torso and shoulders will more effortlessly rotate during the finishing of the swing.

  1. The feet plant
  2. The core engages
  3. The hips and shoulders begin to rotate at the same time.
  4. Repeat this exercise on both sides
  5. The hips stay level as they shift position. This rotation facilitates a release of the external rotators as the core stabilizes the torso in position for the downswing and follow through.
  6. The trailing foot, knee, hip will rotate in the transverse plane as the hips stabilize.

http://somaxsports.com/web/efficientgolfer/index.php
http://overthetopgolf.blogspot.com/2011/03/most-important-part-of-golf-swing-your.html
**** Geisler (2001), Science of Flexibility, Michael J. Alter, Page 277

Single Leg Squatting: Stability and Flexibility

Progression 1/3: Single Leg Balancing Squat

  • Supported

Everyday, people engage in movements that involve coordination of the ankle, knee and hip joints (AKH). Movements such as walking, running, and jumping are variations of the Single Leg Squatting position. In order for coordinated execution of these movements to take place, proper engagement of the core and sequenced activation of the posterior chain are extremely important. Proper core engagement contributes to smooth integration of the hip, knee and ankle. The posterior chain is associated with spinal stabilization is key to integrating movements through the AKH.

Progression 2/3: Single Leg Balancing Squat

  • Unsupported

The core must engage and the ankles must be stable and flexible. It is from here that proper hip drive and knee extension can occur. Knee extension and back extension are predicated by activation of the posterior chain, in conjunction with good core engagement. When these pieces come together then the squat takes place as if the body were a piston in a well oiled machine. Single Leg Squatting will help develop these biomechanics.

Progression 3/3: Single Leg Balancing Squat

  • Weighted

    This is a list of muscles associated with the Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex. Tightness or weakness in any of these areas could inhibit actions, ie; Single Leg Squatting, that are dependent on coordination through the AKH. *

    1. Gastrocnemius/soleus
    2. Adductor complex
    3. Hamstring complex
    4. Hip flexors
    5. Abdominal complex
    6. Erector spinae
    7. Intrinsic core stabilizers
    8. Latissimus dorsi
    9. Tensor fascia latae/IT-band
    10. Gluteus medius and maximus

    The human body is bilaterally constructed. As such, imbalances between the left and the right side of the body are fairly common; whether due to injury or dominant side biomechanics in sports or daily activities. In this article, we present Single Leg Squatting as a movement that will help with establishing continuity between both sides of the body.

    The Single Leg Balancing Squat

  • 1) Stand on one leg. Wrap the lifted foot behind the supporting ankle.

    1. This position ensures that there will be work done on the balancing leg side.
    2. There will be a contralateral transfer of the work as the hips stabilize the torso.
    3. You may need to use a support rod when you start working with this exercise.
    Balancing to develop stability
    Stand on one leg. Wrap the lifted foot behind the supporting ankle.
  • 2) Before beginning, draw the belly button in. Maintain the draw in for the duration of the exercise.
    1. I find it easier to inhale on the descent but you need to find what works for you.
    Engaging the transverse abdominis
    Keeping the core engaged will help stabilize the body.
  • 3) Keeping the chest lifted, begin your descent. Keep the hips square to the front. Maintain the descent of the hips toward the supporting ankle, as much as the flexibility of the hip and ankle will allow.
  • Center the his over the ankle
    Breathe evenly as you sink the hips.
  • 4) Descend as far as you can while maintaining good form.
  • Hips stable, Ankles stable
    Hip Flexion, Knee Flexion, Dorsiflexion.
  • 5) Keep the chest lifted, (re)establish the belly button draw in, press the foot firmly into the ground and begin your ascent. Do not press into the supporting ankle/heel with the lifted foot.
  • Back up to the top.
    Hip Extension, Knee Extension, Plantar Flexion.
  • 6) Come back up to the standing position.
  • Stable and balanced
    Standing tall and firm.

    The single leg balancing squat is a great way to develop the mechanics of ankle stability, knee joint strength, hip flexibility/stability, and spinal stabilization in lieu of moving on to heavier bilateral power/strength work.

    References


    Corrective Strategies for Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Impairments


    Single Leg Movement and The Lateral Sub-System

    *List obtained from Corrective Strategies for the Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex, NASM

30 minutes and I’m gone . . . .

So you have only 30 minutes to workout? What can you accomplish in 30 minutes? When structured properly, you can achieve an effective workout in just 30 minutes.

Due to time constraints, exercise usually gets put aside until the next day. If this happens often enough, accountability may begin to wane and exercise may be skipped for a week, two weeks, maybe even a month. This is not the way to maintain healthy habits that add to the longevity and vibrancy of living.

I am presenting an exercise routine that can accommodate a limited time frame. Some of the exercises might be a bit advanced so be aware of your abilities when doing them.

This exercise routine will meet the following criteria:

  • Addresses the major muscle groups
  • Addresses the deeper stabilizer muscles
  • Develops core stability and strength

This 30 minute exercise routine encompasses multi-joint movements, core strengthening, stabilizer activation and engages all of the major muscle groups. The deep stabilizer muscles are often neglected in workout routines. Activating and stimulating the stabilizer muscles and the major muscle groups will give you benefits throughout the day, after the workout has been completed. The stabilizer muscles are important for maintaining good posture, bending forward or backward, reaching up, leaning sideways and twisting, with or without a load.

According to Reebok University, the muscles that function in trunk movement or stability comprise the core. This includes deep abdominal and back muscles, as well as muscles that stabilize the hips and shoulders.* Moreover, walking, running and jumping require that the ankles function in a stabilized manner. Handstands, backward and forward handsprings, and pushing weight overhead mandate that the wrists and forearms function to stabilize the movement.

For information on engaging the core, please see the blog: Tell me More About the Core

Exercises:


Lunge Position – Overhead Press

3:00 min: 4 x(30 sec. exercise with 15 seconds rest)

Pressing Dumbbells Overhead Press from Lunge Position Dumbbell Overhead Press

Lunge Position – Biceps Curls

3:00 min: 4 x(30 sec. exercise with 15 seconds rest)

These are great exercises for the major muscle groups of the arms and the legs, as well as a good overall body movements.

Biceps Curl from Lunge Position Dumbbell Biceps Curl

Maintain a good upright position without leaning while doing these exercises. The ears, shoulders, hips and rear knee should be aligned when executing the movement.

These movements will engage the core, the hip, ankle and shoulder stabilizers, and develop shoulder and arm strength.

Seated Reverse Cable Fly (resist-a-bands or Cable Tower)

3:00 min 4 x(30 sec. exercise with 15 seconds rest)

Seated Reverse Fly FinishSeated Reverse Cable Fly

Stabilize through the foot that is opposite to the working hand. Maintain an upright position and keep the core engaged. Do not lean.

This movement will develop core stabilization, oblique strength, rhomboid and trapezius strength, and strength and tone for the mid and rear deltoid.

Reverse Table Top

Leg Lift 3:00 min: 4 x(30 sec. exercise with 15 seconds rest)

Table Top Up Leg ExtendedReverse Table Top w/Leg Lift/Extension

Arm Lift 3:00 min: 4 x(30 sec. exercise with 15 seconds rest)

The hip flexors may be tight and/or the lower back may be weak. Do not force the lifting of the hips beyond what is comfortable for you.

  • Let the hip flexors lengthen and the lower back strengthen as you repeat this series.
  • Keep the tip of your tongue connected to the roof of your mouth behind the top row of teeth;
      This will keep the neck musculature from straining.

Do not perform these movements haphazardly.

Table Top w/ Arm ExtendedReverse Table Top w/ Arm Lift/Extension

The hip flexors may be tight and/or the lower back may be weak. Do not force the lifting of the hips beyond what is comfortable for you.

  • Let the hip flexors lengthen and the lower back strengthen as you repeat this series.
  • Keep the tip of your tongue connected to the roof of your mouth behind the top row of teeth;
      This will keep the neck musculature from straining.

Do not perform these movements haphazardly.

These movements activate and tone the hamstrings, gluteals, quadriceps, mid/low trapezius, rhomboids and the deeper spinal extensors, as well as develop shoulder and mid/low trapezius strength and stabilize the Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex and the ankles.

Staggered Plank 4 min 30 sec: 6 x(30 sec. exercise with 15 seconds rest)

Plank Opposite Arm ExtendedStaggered Plank w/ Arm Lift/Extension

There should be a feeling of lift in the chest and the shoulders should be pulled away from the ears. The core is engaged.

This movement develops stabilization and strength for the core; including the shoulders and the hips, spinal extension, shoulder flexion and back strength.

In this 30 minute workout session, I present options to address stabilization. Stabilization is key to developing and maintaining good posture. The more that we stabilize the more efficiently our bodies will perform.

This workout can be used as a supplement to your regular workout regimen.

If all that you have is 30 minutes, give this routine a spin.

Please consult with your healthcare practitioner before starting any exercise program.

Be Healthy, Be Ageless, Be YouAb-Sutra Health and Fitness Coaches, LLC

Exercise Routine

You will need;

  1. Dumbbells
  2. A chair or a bench
  3. A cable tower or an resistance band w/ a good anchor
  4. An adjustable timer

Key points

  • Work both sides of your body equally and evenly.
  • Use enough weight to challenge you and allow for good form.
  • Keep the tip tongue connected to the roof of your mouth to minimize neck strain.

      Reverse Table Top
  • The hips should be parallel to the floor.
      Staggered Plank
  • There should be no tension in the neck.
      Seated Reverse Fly
      Dumbbell Overhead Press

5 minute warn up

Perform a five minute warm up of your choice or click on the following links:

Video – Zuzana’a 5 minute warm-up

How-to-warm-up

Lunge Position – Overhead Press 3:00 min total: 4 x (30 sec. and 15 sec. rest)

Perform this exercise with the left leg forward two times and the right leg forward two times.

Video – Lunge Position – Overhead Press

Reverse Table Top – Leg Extension 3:00 minutes total: 4 x (30 sec. and 15 sec rest)

Lift the left leg arm two times for 30 seconds and the right leg two times for 30 seconds.

Video – Reverse Table Top – Leg Extension

Seated Reverse Fly (cable tower or resist-a-bands) 3:00 minutes total: 4 x (30 sec. and 15 sec. rest)

Perform this exercise twice with the right arm and twice with the left arm.

Video – Seated Reverse Fly

Lunge Position – Biceps Curls 3:00 minutes total: 4 x (30 sec. and 15 sec. rest)

Perform this exercise with the left leg forward two times and the right leg forward two times.

Video – Lunge Position, Biceps Curls

Reverse Table Top – Arm Lift 3:00 minutes total: 4 x (30 sec. and 15 sec. rest)

Lift the left arm arm two times for 30 seconds and the right arm two times for 30 seconds.

Video – Reverse Table Top w/ Arm Extension

Staggered Plank Series

Work the left arm, the right arm, and the central leg for 30 seconds each.

Video – Staggered Plank 3:30 minutes:seconds total: 2 x (90 sec. and 15 sec. rest)

5 minute cool down

Video – 5 minute cool down

References

* Stand Up Strong, Eve Fleck, MS, 2006

Balance Training

Balance Training is an often overlooked aspect of most people’s exercise regimen. When I work out at the gym I see people doing all sorts of exercises, but very rarely do I see anyone performing balance exercises. As we age and become more sedentary, movement can become restricted and balance and stability skills may decline. This is why balance and stability training are imperative.

Balance problems can be caused by many things i.e., including medications, inner ear problems, blood pressure, illness, even hammertoes.

Everyone needs to work on maintaining functional balance. We are never too young or too old to benefit from balance training. A healthy balance system helps us to feel good and to move freely and confidently. Keeping this system healthy is especially important if you have problems due to illness, such as joint pain, weakness or dizziness. Balance training can help you overcome feelings of unsteadiness.

Loss of balance and stability is a serious matter. When individuals lose their ability to balance or to walk safely, the end result is often a nursing home with mobility restricted to a walker or the confines of a wheelchair.

There are several exercise modalities that you can use to improve your balance, such as Yoga and Tai Chi. One of the simplest balance exercises to practice is standing on one foot. This exercise can be made more challenging by lifting the leg higher, abducting it out to the side or extending it behind you. Single-leg movements from side to side are also good for challenging balance and core strength. Standing one leg balance can be made more challenging by raising the heel, closing one or both eyes, or by raising the arms over head.

click for video Balance Exercises with Progressions

By training to enhance your balance, you will recognize postural improvements, coordination, and better athletic performance. This in turn will result in fewer injuries and greater stability as you age, which can help prevent falls and keep you both strong and independent longer.

Good balance and a strong pelvic floor often go hand-and-hand. For more information please click here: Pelvic Floor Muscles.

Check with your doctor or therapist before starting an exercise program.

Martial Arts Kata and Core Stability

I was practicing my tai chi long form on 4 April 2012. Lately, I have been focusing keeping the head suspended while lengthening the spine and sinking into the ground. I have been emphasizing these points by practicing the form with a book on my head. Practicing the form in this fashion encourages activation of the stabilizer muscles, engagement of and stability through the core and the proper mechanics of establishing a solid base and extending through the extremities. This is typically done slowly and with focus.

Extending form the hips
This techniques is used to uproot/destabilize the opponent

During my practice session, some Tae Kwon Do (TKD) stylists came in to share the space for their practice. I was happy to share with them as it was an opportunity to practice being aware of my surroundings while focusing on the task at hand. Upon finishing, I explained to them the effects of what I was doing on overall technique and application. I even suggested that they could do the same thing with some of their basic martial arts kata. This idea did not go over well; the elder TKD practitioner said that the book would fall off and one of the younger practitioners stated that they would not be able to do it. Sadly, these statements made me realize that the principles of core stability, in some cases, are not being widely taught within the context of martial arts (in general) and martial arts kata (specifically).

I felt obliged to write this blog about martial arts kata and core stability. Martial Arts Kata is the preset series of movements that are designed to teach the practitioner direction of attack, sequencing of technique and application of technique. As one’s level of practice advances, the techniques in the kata can be broken down and contemplated upon for purposes of application in various scenarios. Kata is part of more traditional styles of martial arts but their applicability to fighting, if practiced diligently, cannot be overstated.

Core Stability‘ is defined as the ability to control the position and motion of the trunk over the pelvis to allow optimum production, transfer and control of force and motion to the terminal segment in integrated athletic activities. *

Blog/Review – Tell me more about the core

Core training typically involves engaging the core musculature from an anchored position. In higher levels of motion and force production, it is necessary for the core to stabilize in a manner that allows for adequate delivery of force from a stable base, through the hips, to the end of the terminal limb (legs/feet or arms/hands). This means that training methods should be focused on strengthening the core/abdominals as a prelude to developing core stability and strength. The progression from core/abdominal strength to core stability will ensure that the work to be done will proceed from a strong and stable foundation.

Greetings
Giving an overview of my presentation

Core muscle activity is best understood as the pre-programmed integration of local, single-joint muscles and multi-joint muscles to provide stability and produce motion. This results in proximal stability for distal mobility, a proximal to distal patterning of generation of force, and the creation of interactive moments that move and protect distal joints. *

Video – Introduction to Martial Arts Kata and Core Stabilization

As training ensues, it is good to have strength in the major muscle groups. However, the major muscles groups are not solely responsible for the stabilization that is necessary for optimal force production. Training methods that elicit core stabilization will set the stage for the synaptic patterning necessary for coordinated neuromuscular activity. When the core is stable and strong, a strong base can be established prior to executing the desired movement. The core is responsible for the generation of powerful, fluid movement, instead of brute force from the extremities being the sole method of force generation.

Evaluation of the core should be dynamic, and include evaluation of the specific functions (trunk control over the planted leg) and directions of motions (three-planar activity). *

Balance and Focus
Core stability is part and parcel for good athletic performance

This will involve some balance work. For example, from a contralateral stance, standing on the left leg, and having a handle attached to a cable tower in the right hand, is it possible for an individual to generate enough force to extend the arm forward, with good form, while overcoming 10 lbs, 15 lbs, 20 lbs of resistance? It is possible. These types of drills should be part of training for those who pursue athletic activities or a more active lifestyle. These types of drills elicit activation of the deep stabilizer muscles as well as the core musculature. The stabilizers and the core should not be overlooked.

Video – One Legged Stance – Contralateral Shoulder Flexion/Elbow Extension

I have put together some video that displays a method of developing core stability within the context of performing a martial arts kata. In the first instance (Video I), there is no stimuli for stabilizing the core other than my movements. In the second instance (Video II), I am more stable through the core while executing the same movements at a slower pace, due to having placed a book on my head.

Video I – Yellow Belt Kata – Martial Arts Kata and Core Stabilization I

Video II – Yellow Belt Kata II – A book on my head and Core Stabilization

Video – Conclusion of Martial Arts Kata and Core Stabilization

Balance and Focus
Stabilizing the core

* This is taken from the summary of:
The Role of Core Stability in Athletic Function, Kibler, W Ben1; Press, Joel2; Sciascia, Aaron1, 2006

Harold is a Certified Personal Trainer, a 200 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher, a 1st Degree Black Belt with the ATA, a 1st Degree Black Belt in Kajukenbo and a Tai Chi Therapist.

Posterior Chain Activation

Me introducing the series.
Thank you for coming to listen.

Click this link – Introduction to the Posterior Chain series

The hip joint and the shoulder girdle are critical to the functionality of the posterior chain musculature. The musculotendinous attachments at the hip joint and at the shoulder girdle are important to engaging the core and stabilizing the spine. Because the spine connects the hips to the shoulders, ensuing movements of the limbs will reflect the stability of the core and the functional activation of the posterior chain.

Let’s start with movements that educate your awareness of the core musculature and the postural, stabilizer muscles.

These movements will teach you how to activate the posterior chain. To properly activate the posterior chain, you must engage the deep gluteal musculature and the hamstring complex while mobilizing the deeper back musculature to stabilize the spine and the shoulder joint. Bring the ball into position such that the legs are on the ball 1/3 – 1/2 the way up, from the calcaneus, along the back of the calf. Our arms, back and hips are on the ground. The arms should be positioned no more than 45° away from the side of the torso. This is the most advantageous angle for engaging the shoulder blades onto the back of the rib cage. ‘Palms facing down’ is standard arm position while ‘palms facing up’ is more challenging.

The little muscles are working
We want to develop more spinal mobility.

Click this link – We want to develop more spinal mobility

The gluteus maximus should be relatively passive during the movement. The movements will be enacted mainly through the action of the intraspinal musculature, shoulder stabilization and core engagement. As the hips lift, the spine will be articulated from the ground. In addition, the stabilizers in the hip/thigh region and the shoulder area will add to the ease of lifting the hips.

Length of the lumbar spine
The stability of the shoulders and the hips enables us to sustain this position.

Click this link – The stability of the shoulders and the hips enables you to sustain this position

Engage the core musculature (belly button drawn in and pelvic floor activated) and keep length in the lower spine (a more lengthened, neutral spine than pelvic tilt). As the hips lift, the Iliopsoas, along with the lower back musculature, will lengthen. This will allow for better stabilization of the hips.

Bring the feet toward your hips
The stability of the hips and the shoulders is necessary to go into this position.

Click this link – The stability of the hips and the shoulders is necessary to go into this position

From the initial lifted hip position, the knees go into flexion. The hamstring complex is the prime mover in this phase. However, the stabilization that you have established through the posterior chain, thus far, will be intensified. As the hips lift, the serratus anterior will become even more active in shoulder stabilization, The deep and superficial back musculature will maintain stability and length in the spine and the thigh and hip musculature will maintain the stable position of the hips. The core will keep all of the parts of the body functionally connected as the knees flex and the hips lift even higher.

Releasing tension in the back
How to stretch after engaging the spinal extenders.

Click this link – Releasing tension from the back after working the spinal stabilizers/extensors

Please be aware of your limitations as you go into these movements. The deeper aspects of your musculature will be engaged intensely as you work to activate the posterior chain. You need complete no more than 5 – 8 repetitions. As you get stronger, work on adding a second set. If you have any spinal complications or hip issues, you should consult with your physician or with your physical therapist before engaging in any exercise of this type.

Core Exercises

Despite what you may have heard, core exercises involve more than simply “activating your abdominals” and crunching. The core reaches far behind the abdominals. Pilates is a great way to strengthen the core musculature, but Pilates instruction often overlooks the activation of the pelvic floor musculature, which is crucial to developing a strong core.

In the following video, I perform a Pilates style Teaser exercise with three modifications or progressions. The following exercises are advanced, but certainly possible to perform if your core is strong and you have adequate flexibility. Please read and practice the following core stabilization blogs: Tell Me More About The Core, Pelvic Floor Muscles, and Shoulder Strength-Scapular Stability and Mobility as they provide a great starting point.

Video For Core Exercise with Bands

If your core is weak, sadly, everything else is weak.