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Get fit for golf with Alan Beattie – March

FLEXIBILITY is clearly a key requirement in golf and a necessity if you want to achieve your full potential; however this is not something you can purchase from your local professional as part of his lessons.

Some individuals are blessed with natural flexibility as it’s part of their genetic make-up, some however do not and these golfers need to develop good flexibility through a specific stretching programme.

To have the correct amount of flexibility is paramount in golf, especially to reduce injury, and for those of you who suffer from wrist, shoulder, hip, back and knee pain during a round and post round this is an area that needs addressing immediately.

Paul Chek said in his book, The Golf Biomechanics Manual, that golf flexibility is: “The amount of movement, uninhibited by range of motion restrictions, that a golfer needs to play to his or her full potential.”

When we are examining flexibility our understanding of the three planes of motion really helps.

Golf uses all three planes of motion to execute a correct and efficient golf swing so we must be unrestricted in each plane of motion.

Common faults such as poor back swing positioning, postural floors, correct swing plane, hooks, slices, thinning the ball, hitting the ball heavy and poor pitching and chipping are often due to lack of flexibility and therefore stretching is essential.

Stretching allows you to create and maintain the optimal joint range of motion in the body. In golf, optimal joint range in all three planes of motion is a biomechanical prerequisite of the golf swing in order to avoid compensatory movements due to imbalances between the joints and muscles.

The tissues that affect the mechanics of the swing are the muscles, tendons, ligaments and joint capsules that are surrounding all of the joints involved.

Unfortunately for us as golfers all of these, with the exception of ligaments, can shorten leading to reduced range of motion which in turn alters the biomechanics of our body and progressively alters our swing mechanics. This is not good.

Some of our muscles produce different patterns, some are responsible for medial rotation while the opposing creates lateral rotation as is the situation with one key area – the shoulders. Others produce flexion again opposed to extension (bending and extending). Just from this you can probably see now how if we have balance between the muscle groups in the body we create optimal swing mechanics, and if we do not the movement or pathway of our swing is altered.

To us as golfers this means compensations in the movement or swing due to the inability or restriction of a joint we must move another joint more to attempt balance, the more we compensate the less consistent we will be and the more swing faults we will have.

One example of a common restriction is the levator scapular or shoulder/neck muscle, this combined with restrictions in the neck make a full shoulder turn impossible.

The images below show a good turn with no restriction in the muscles (PIC 2) and restriction in the shoulder and neck causing an incorrect turn (PIC 3).

BeattieGood BeattieBad

BeattieBad

You will note how in PIC 3 the hips have had to over rotate and tilt compensating for a lack of shoulder rotation, which collapses the base structure of the swing. This also causes a straightening of the thoracic spine and is a clear compensatory movement to try and get the club back into what is thought to be the correct position.

In reality all we had to do to avoid this compensation is use a shoulder spine integrator stretch and over a small amount of time, optimal rotation could be achieved with no compensations or faults caused trying to get the positioning correct.