Core Training for Golfers

Core Training for Golfers

Having a strong core is crucial to playing good golf as well as avoiding injury, but how do we create a proper core strengthening program?

We see lots of clients come through our doors that insist they have a strong core, but when we actually put them to the test, they often lack core strength, stability and control. Increasing club head speed is one of the more common goals that our players come in with, but they are already swinging at speeds that their body can’t control. By increasing core stability, we often see club head speed improve without having to incorporate any speed specific training. A speed training program likely won’t be overly active if your body is unable to stabilize at faster speeds, which can lead to high dispersions rates or pain, stiffness, and injury.

Whether you are just beginning a core strength program or have been working on core strength for years, here are a number of things to consider that often get overlooked when it comes to core strengthening.

Are the joints surrounding our core working properly?

The core section of our body (abdominals and lumbar spine) are designed for stability, while the surrounding joints (hips and thoracic spine) are designed for mobility. These surrounding joints need to be working correctly in order to efficiently create core strength and stability. As golfers, we need to use our hips and thoracic spine to create rotation in the swing, but often we see physical limitations in these joints. To make an efficient golf swing our thoracic spine needs 45 degrees of rotation bi-laterally and our hips need about 90 degrees of external rotation and 45 degrees of internal rotation. If a golfer is physically unable to achieve these ranges of motion whether that be from an injury, poor posture, or repetitive stress, our lumbar spine and core take over their jobs. As we just discussed, the lumbar spine is designed for stability, not creating rotation, but if the hips and thoracic spine are not effectively creating rotation, the lumbar spine and core go from being stable joints to being mobile joints and we lose core stability. So, a golfer may be doing tons of core strengthening, but if they lack thoracic spine or hip mobility achieving good core stability becomes very challenging.

Do you have proper breathing mechanics?

Proper diaphragmatic breathing is crucial to creating good core strength. If you have ever done strength training or have watched power lifting at the Olympics you will notice there is a huge emphasis on breathing while performing any lift. The reason for these very specific breath patterns is that proper diaphragm movement will increase core stability allowing the surrounding joints to work more effectively to lift the weights. Olympic weight lifters will do extensive breath training to be able to maximize core stability, but this is something that is often over looked with more amateur weight training or during athletic movements such as the golf swing. In-correct breathing mechanics is something we see on a daily basis in the clinic. Poor breathing mechanics can occur due to poor rib or spinal mobility, diaphragm hypomobility, bad posture, or previous injury. These clients often need some hands on treatment to improve mobility and then are taken through a motor learning program on how to breath correctly starting with simple exercises progressing to more dynamic movements and finally how to create proper breath during athletic movements such as the golf swing.

Owning the Simple Movement Patterns  

One of the most common mistakes we see with core strengthening programs is athletes trying to do too much too quickly. We all want to get into these very complex, dynamic core strengthening exercises because we think that’s how we will achieve the quickest results. Complex and dynamic core exercises are very effective, but only if we can own the simple movement patterns first. Before we can get into more challenging core exercises, we need our athletes to learn how to control their core, create and maintain a neutral pelvic position, along with creating proper breathing pattern through simple exercises such as bridging, dead bugs, bird dogs, plank progressions and hip hinging to name a few. Once our athletes can own these simple patterns, we quickly progress them into more challenging exercises, but proper stability needs to be achieved first to effectively build strength and make permanent change to our golf game. 

If you are a golfer that struggles with consistency or chronically deals with back and hip discomfort, poor core stability and control is likely one of the more common causes. Core strengthening is a great way to improve stability, but if we don’t take into account the mobility of the surrounding joints, diaphragm mobility and owning the simple movement patterns improving core strength and stability becomes very challenging.

Ready to enhance your golf performance? Contact Dan at dan@honsbergerphysio.com for personalized core training programs designed to take your game to new heights!

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