Protect Your Back Through Golf Season With These Two Moves
Exercise 1: Lateral Band Walks for Hip Stability
With the recent emphasis on the importance of fitness in golf, we often hear people talk about “core strength”. Many people think of this as meaning that you have strong abs, but the core is much more than that. The core is where all movement begins and is responsible for transferring power from the lower body to the upper body in most athletic movements. One often over looked part of the core is our hips.
Many people think of the hips as being part of the legs, but they are an integral part of the core where most of our power is transferred through. The hips are the structure that acts as the base for the spine, and they are capable of creating a great deal of rotational speed and power which can be transferred up through the body to the club, resulting in a smooth and powerful swing. But in order for the hips to be able to create that speed and power, they first have to be able to control it. Speed without control is a dangerous concept no matter what the context, especially when we’re talking about the golf swing.
My favorite drill to work on creating strong and stable hips is called the lateral band walk. To do this drill we want to place a “mini band” around the ankles and get into a solid athletic position. Turn the toes inward slightly, then begin to walk sideways. The key here is to ensure that as you step, your body remains motionless from the waist up and your feet keep that slight internal rotation. Take about 20 steps in one direction, then 20 back in the opposite direction. Perform this drill for three sets, 2-3 times per week and you’re on your way to a more powerful core!
Exercise 2: Side Planks for a Pain Free Swing
We all know a golfer who frequently complains about their back during or after a round of golf. While not all back pain can be cured simply with exercise, many times the underlying cause has to do with a lack of core strength, or an imbalance in core strength.As I mentioned when talking about Lateral Band Walks, when we talk about core we’re talking about a lot more than just your abs! We always want to focus on training all of the muscles that support the hips, back, and shoulders to work together as they do in real life activities.
A great exercise to strengthen all of those muscles together is the side plank. The side plank utilizes not only the abs and low back muscles, but also the obliques, glutes, TFL, lats, and the rotator cuff muscles to keep your entire body stable. These muscles are all key players in the golf swing and need to be able to work together to create stability through the trunk, allowing it to move freely and without pain. I think of this as the ultimate core exercise because it ensures that you don’t leave any weaknesses.
To perform the side plank, begin lying on your side, with the elbow of the bottom arm on the ground, the top hand placed on the top hip, and the feet stacked on top of each other. Be sure that your hips are pushed forward so that you create a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Lift your hips and hold. Repeat for 30 seconds on each side of your body, 3 sets per side. When you can complete this without your body shaking then you know that you’ve developed a solid trunk to support your back and your game!
Steve Zarriello is the owner of Olympia Fitness and Performance, located in Cranston, RI. He has been training clients of all different ages, abilities and backgrounds for 10 years. His primary focus is on working with golfers to help improve their ability to play the game and keep them pain free.