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Wednesday's with WVPT
Author: Ryan Hubbard
May 3rd 2017 - Build a Better Base to Your Golf Swing
 
If you had a crack in the foundation of your house, you would want to fix it right away, right?  Now what if the foundation of your golf swing was weak, what do you do? And how do you determine if this is a problem in the first place?  These are questions I ask myself when working with other golfers and when I am working on my own game.   At the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) training we discuss that the gluteal muscles are really the KING, especially when it comes to stability and power.  I have come to find out that in my experience as a Physical Therapist that these muscles are the ones that are usually weak.  Limitations of strength in these muscles can cause not only a decrease in golf performance, but a myriad of lower extremity injuries and even contribute to low back pain.  You would think that with so many people walking around with weak gluteals that more people would be in pain.  But in reality, the human body is excellent at compensating for physical deficits and we are able to perform all of our daily activities without properly using our hips muscles.  It is usually when these activities become painful and when we dig deeper during the TPI assessment we notice the crack in the foundation.  I want to give you some exercises that can ultimately help you fix those cracks.
 
Before we dive into those exercises, I want to talk about why our gluteals are important (and I’m not just talking about for looks at the beach this summer). In our activities of daily living they help us with things like squatting, kneeling, stairs, and the list goes on and on.  In golf, they are an integral part of the golf swing for several reasons, but lower body stability is the one I try to hammer home to my clients. The larger stabilizers of the hip include the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus.  These muscles are responsible for moving your leg back, to the side, and rotating.  Other smaller muscles lie underneath to help with rotations as well.  Most importantly the larger stabilizers act to make the hip sturdy when the feet are fixed on a surface and other limbs are moving.  This is demonstrated even as we walk.  When the left leg is swinging through, our right leg is planted and our right hip muscles are firing to prevent our pelvis from dropping down with gravity (we don’t want that).  gluteals-and-piriformis.jpg
 
You’re probably wondering how this translates to golf.  Well if you think about on the PGA and LPGA tours the club head speeds on the driver are over 100 mph and just under 100 MPH, respectively.  This is over a mostly fixed lower body from downswing to impact.  This allows for the kinetic energy to be released that was harnessed in the backswing.  This requires an incredible amount of gluteal stability to be able to fire and control the hip turn.  For a right-handed golfer, the right gluteus maximus and medius are turning on as the weight is shifted onto the trail leg.  The opposite occurs on the other side with the weight transferring to the left side in the follow through.  When these muscles are weak the sequencing of the swing may be off and the likely result is a loss of power and distance. and can even cause the swing to become painful.  As we get older we already lose distance on our drives and we don’t want this to happen quicker than it needs to. 
 
This is where physical therapy and fitness come into play.  Making sure the joints are moving freely and in this case the correct muscles are adequately strong for you to perform better.  This translates to hitting the ball further and not making holes longer than they have to be.  I have always struggled somewhat off the tee with my distance with my driver so I have opted to using some fairway woods.  After consistently performing the exercises below and their subsequent progressions, I have improved my distance with these clubs and even hitting them as long as my playing partners using drivers.  I hope you take away the importance of the gluteals in your swing and add these exercises to your home programs.
 
  1. Bridge with leg kick
-While lying on your back, raise your buttocks off the floor/bed into a bridge position. 
-Next straighten a leg so that only one leg is supporting your body. -Then, return that leg back to the ground and change to the other side.   
-Try and maintain your pelvis level the entire time.   
-2 sets of 10 repetitions each side
 
 
  1. Half kneel chop
-In half kneeling position and cable column handle or resistance band placed high, get into start position shown, then squeeze core and bring arms across and down as chopping wood and return to start.
-Repeat on the opposite side
-2 sets of 10 repetitions each side
 
 
 
  1. Single leg stability with rotation

-Place one foot in front of other with most of weight on front foot (slight bend in front knee). Use back foot to help with balance. Pull the band or cable to the opposite side while rotating trunk/contracting abdominals. 
-Balance on one leg to make harder.
-2 sets of 10 repetitions each side
 
Like any other modality or exercise I discuss, I encourage you to contact your local health professional before attempting.  If you have any questions on these exercises or any of my other articles, please contact us at (603)335-4700 or email me directly at ryan@wvphysicaltherapy.com
Hit em’ straight!
 
 

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