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Golf Fitness: Dynamic Stability

With Evan Bett, SwingFit

Aside from maintenance of flexibility and mobility, Dynamic Stability is the only phase of golf conditioning that never truly ends. As a golfer, you can never have too high a level of Dynamic Stability. You could say the same for the first two phases of stability that we discussed previously, but those two phases are pre-requisites to the dynamic phase in which we train our bodies with progressive movement patterns to prepare ourselves accordingly. In other words, they do have an end-point where you can move on.

Dynamic Stability as it pertains to the golfer can be described as the ability to integrate movements of the hips and pelvis with the shoulders and spine over a progressive decrease of support. Essentially your ability to rotate the body efficiently and effectively against the forces produced during the swing. Let’s revisit that spinning top analogy just one last time. As a spinning top begins to lose momentum, the rotational energy is dissipated in all directions which sends the top into an uncontrollable wobble. The same goes for our bodies. As our postural muscles that keep us upright and stable begin to fatigue throughout a round, our ability to maintain an instantaneous axis of rotation becomes increasingly difficult. 

I like to call the stretch of holes 14-18 the danger zone, for some golfers (especially those of you over the age of 40-50) this zone could be 12-18 or even 10-18 depending on your level of fitness. Depending how often you play, it’s during this stretch of holes when we as golfers become susceptible to all kinds of spinal injuries, some of them quite serious. As we continue to swing the club with authority, if our postural muscles are fatigued and unable to provide adequate support of the spine, the forces produced during the swing are enough to displace vertebrae or cause damage to our discs. Trust me – not an injury you want to suffer. Not only are you more prone to injury but you’ll have a really hard time producing a consistent swing which leads to all kinds of ball flight issues and poor tendencies.

To truly improve your level of Dynamic Stability you must learn to maintain optimal alignment of the head, spine and the extremity joints while swinging the golf club. Therefore, the types of exercises needed to achieve this goal must be designed to integrate the entire body with spinal alignment at the forefront. The only way you can eventually maximize the benefits of future strength and power training is through a combination of optimal levels of flexibility, postural stability and dynamic stability. Once you’ve competed this phase of conditioning you will have massively improved joint function, reduced postural sway and enhanced the function of your nervous system. It’s the combination of these results that help golfers get the most out of their strength and power training without any setbacks.

The following exercises are two of the best when it comes to Dynamic Stability training. These are movements that should be incorporated by all golfers during this particular phase of conditioning. From a personal training perspective, if you’re the type of client that has been progressing really well with previous phases of stability, we would likely pair Dynamic Stability with basic strength training to help speed along your program and get more out of subsequent strength and power development. If not, your initial dynamic work should be executed on its own for 4-6 weeks then broken down into smaller segments as you continue with strength & power. 

Advanced Swiss Hip Extension

This exercise a progression from the Swiss Hip Extension we covered in our previous article. If you haven’t spent enough time with the first version, this progression may be very difficult to complete. It’s not that you can’t do it, it’s that your body is not prepared accordingly. Not only will this help condition the hamstrings, but it also trains the back and abdominals and integrates each of the muscles and joints to work together. 

Advanced Hip Extension

Step 1: Start on your back in the same position as you did with the Hip Extension exercise from our previous Stability article with your heels/ankles on the top of the swiss ball and arms outstretched. Keep your palms facing up toward the ceiling. 

Step 2: Using your feet, drive the heels into the ball to extend your hips while simultaneously flexing the knees to roll the ball backward toward your butt. The end position should have a straight line from the knee, through the hips, along the spine and ending at the shoulders. Take 3 seconds to extend, hold top position for 3 seconds then take another 3 to descend the body. 

Supine Lateral Ball Roll

Considered an “do-it-all” exercise, the Lateral Ball Roll is no joke. It’s extremely difficult and should be executed with precaution. Try it once or twice going in each direction if you don’t believe me. The movement targets and improves many things at once such as posture, balance, coordination, shoulder stability, core strength, agility, endurance and of course, golf performance! With this many bi-products, you’ll work up a few drops of sweat pretty quickly. 

Lateral Ball Roll

Step 1: Lie on your back on a swiss ball with the middle of the shoulder blades and back of the head supported. Extend your hips upward until the fall in the same horizontal plane as the shoulders and back (TIP: keep your Glutes activated to keep the hips extended). 

Step 2: Extend the arms out to the side so the palms are facing upward (you can lay a rod across the chest to maintain arm height). Being to shuffle the feet and roll the body laterally to one side only until the shoulder is no longer supported by the ball. Hold this position for a second or two then shuffle to the other side. Be sure to keep your hips extended with perfect alignment from the knees through the spine to the shoulders!

Give both of these a try for the next month or so and check back in for our next topic (and likely what you’ve all been waiting for) Strength Training! Remember, these movements are not easy. If you’re struggling, it’s completely normal. You must spend enough time on the previous phases of stability before progressing to these advanced types of movements. Train smart!

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Swing healthy folks!

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