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Golf Fitness: Integrated Stability (Postural Stability – Pt. II)

with Evan Bett, GolfFit

Welcome back. If your recall from our last article we talked about the types of stability, specifically postural stability. Before we get any deeper, let’s revisit the two types of stability as it pertains to golf:

Static Stability – Also known as postural stability. The ability to remain in one position for a period of time without losing good structural alignment. In golfer’s terms, the ability to maintain good posture at address throughout the duration of a round.

Dynamic Stability – The ability to keep each and all working joints in optimal alignment during any given movement, and facilitate the movement efficiently. In golfer’s terms, the ability to maintain an optimal and consistent axis of rotation against the forces produced during the swing.

When we first addressed Static Stability we focused on isolated movement patterns that target specific muscles that are commonly weakened in today’s environment of limited movement variety. The purpose of those exercises are to help restore proper communication between the brain and key stabilizer muscles of the body. Failure to establish good communication signals before progressing to more complex exercises will only amplify muscles imbalances and hinder golf performance!

Now it’s time we visit the second phase of Static Stability – integrated movement patterns. Remember that critical concept we discussed previously? As postural alignment and joint stability improves, the severity of postural sway decreases and the consistency of good shots increases. Think about that spinning top analogy. When a spinning top starts to lose momentum, the rotational energy is dissipated in all directions causing a change to the axis of rotation and the top to start wobbling. Relative to golf, as postural muscles weaken throughout the duration of a round, a golfer will have a tough time maintaining an instantaneous axis of rotation against the forces produced during the swing. This leads to poor shot consistency and perhaps even injury. 

Are you wondering if you’re a golfer who suffers from increased postural sway? There’s a quick way to measure. Get yourself on two scales (preferable the same kind of scale for accuracy sake or at least on scales that are the same height). Place one foot on each scale about hip width apart. Look straight forward in good postural alignment and have a partner record the numbers. Controlled postural sway would mean there is only a 0-5lb discrepancy between both scales. Anything more than a 5lb difference is a cause for concern and more than likely preventing you from shooting lower scores.  

To continue increasing postural stability as a means of reducing postural sway, we must progress from isolated movements to integrated patterns. Some of the exercises in this phase of conditioning are similar to those in the isolation phase, however much more complex. The following Integrated stability exercises will require you to move and stabilize segments of your body in a synchronized manner. The integration of specific muscles groups and joint complexes will prepare the body accordingly for the final phase of stabilization – Dynamic Stability. 

SWISS HIP EXTENSION

This is a multi-purpose exercise that provides many benefits to golfers. It conditions the core muscles as stabilizers, trains the entire posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, back) to work together and improves balance, coordination and postural endurance. 

Swiss Hip Extension

Step 1: Lie on your back with the back of the ankles placed on the top of a swiss ball. Start with the feet about 2-6 inches apart, the closer together the harder the exercise. Place your arms out to the side anywhere between a 45-90 degree angle, the closer they are to the body the harder the exercise. 

Step 2: From the starting position, apply pressure to the top of the ball and extend the hips toward the ceiling by pushing away from the ground with the feet, activating the glutes, hamstrings and lower back simultaneously. 

Step 3: Make sure the hips are high enough so that you have a straight line running from the ankle, through the hips and torso and ending at the shoulders. Take 3 seconds to elevate the hips, hold for 3-5 seconds and then take another 3 to lower the body to starting position. 

SWISS FORWARD BALL ROLL

This exercise is critical for the golfer as it improves the golfer’s ability to stabilize the spine and teaches some of the major muscles groups to work together (shoulder extensors, hips flexors and abdominals).

Swiss Roll Outs

Step 1: Begin on your knees with the knees directly beneath the hips. And the elbows below the shoulders resting on the back of the ball with the hands clasped together in a prayer-like position and resting on the top of the ball. 

Step 2: Activate the core by inhaling and drawing the belly button inward toward the spine. On your first movement, extend the body forward by moving the hips, shoulders and arms forward simultaneously. Extend only to the point you initially feel tension in the lower back and stop there. Hold for 3 seconds then return to starting position over another 3 seconds. 

Step 3: Repeat the same pattern and only extend to that same position where you felt initial tension in the low back – do not extend any further or you will defeat the purpose of the exercise! Take 3 seconds to extend, hold end position for 3 then return to the starting position over another 3 seconds. 

Try these exercises out for the time being under our next article that will cover Dynamic Stability and some final movements designed to reduce postural sway. We post our articles accordingly based on the amount of time you should be spending working out with the recommended movements. Progression is crucial for results, you’ve got to walk before you can run and proper programming is a marathon. 

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Swing healthy folks!

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