Am I Really Not Flexible Enough For My Golf Swing?

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“But I can’t get my back to the target; I’m just not flexible enough!” Have you ever heard this on the driving range, or said it yourself? It is a very common thought that is expressed by many golfers, especially those in their 40’s, 50’s and up. The body just doesn’t feel limber enough to make a complete back swing, and getting your hips all the way around for a full follow through can seem impossible. But is it really?

Sure, in many instances, we have limitations in our passive motion or flexibility; often at several joints in our bodies. We see this everyday, but is it the true source of the limitation in our swing? Often times it is not. In fact, while most of us have some issues with getting our bodies in the position we want, whether it be in the golf swing or just with everyday activities, the problem is not always that our muscle or joint is restricted and cannot achieve that motion. Often it is that we are not strong enough to get ourselves in that position without assistance, or our body just doesn’t know how to properly move in order to get there.

As a physical therapist, I have worked with a large number of golfers, as well as athletes in many different areas of competition. I have also worked with thousands people in the general population who often complain that they are not flexible enough to perform certain tasks. However when evaluating many of these individuals, we typically find that they are not necessarily as inflexible as they thought. In many cases, we can physically move the client or patient into the desired position, or take them through the movement pattern that they would like to achieve, without significant restriction. The problem is that they are either not strong enough to maintain or reach that position without assistance, or their body just doesn’t know how to perform the movement correctly. Another issue may include previous injuries that initially caused them to alter their movement and over the course of time, even though the injury has healed, they continue to compensate for certain motions. Therefore, it is becomes more of an issue of strengthening that person or creating a new/proper movement pattern, rather than just stretching them.

Am I saying that stretching is not going to help that person achieve their desired result, of course not; it would be silly to even suggest it. What I would like to clarify, though, is that simply stretching a specific muscle group or direction of movement is not enough. We must combine flexibility with strengthening techniques and the proper movement patterns in order to achieve the optimal results. Many times, I have heard, “if I were just 10 years younger and more flexible, I would be able to swing a club like that,” or “I just need to get stretched so I can turn more.” In reality, most individuals, regardless of age, can reach the “back to the target” position fairly easily when taught what muscles to use in the swing and how to stay balanced. It is how they get themselves there that is the key, not that their body is not capable of doing it.

Let’s think about a situation that we have all experienced. We’ve all been told by our mother’s to stand up straight and get our shoulders back, right? So what did we do? We would adjust ourselves, stand up straight for 2 minutes and revert back to our poor posture as we went about our activities. Why is that? Were we not flexible enough? No. We were able to do what Mom asked, but the body was not conditioned to maintain that position, and our brain did not make the conscious effort to focus attention on that task. The muscles didn’t have the endurance to hold that posture over a long period of time. Have you ever tried to sit in a chair with perfect posture for 5 minutes? It seems impossible for most, but with some work, it is definitely achievable. The more this action is practiced correctly, the easier it becomes to perform on a regular basis. The same can be said for the golf swing. Just stretching someone might improve the length of their muscle tissue, but that doesn’t mean that they are going to be able to swing or move like Tiger. It is a matter of ingraining in them the proper sequence of movement and strengthening them to be able to achieve that position without assistance.

So no more blaming it on age or not having the range of motion that you need to make it happen. Odds are you just need a little help in finding a better way to get there. Once you do that, there is no stopping you!

Source by Jeff Pelizzaro