5 Golf Fitness Exercises to Improve Your Game
One of the most neglected areas that most overlook is our ability to breathe efficiently! Breathing is not only important for our mind but also our movement! Let’s look at this a bit deeper!
First, we need to understand that the diaphragm is one of our primary muscles used for creating stability.
And we need stability to create separation!
Separation is a big part of the equation when it comes to a more powerful and efficient golf swing!
Are you following me now?
So, let’s dive a bit deeper into the diaphragm. We are all using our diaphragm but many of us are not using it as effectively as we can.
ANATOMY OF STABILIZATION
Static Structures (Kind of) – They move when we breathe
- Lumbar spine
- Thoracic Diaphragm
Abdominal wall (EO, IO, TA)
- Quadradus lumborum
- Components: Ribcage, spinal column, pelvis
- The rigid frame to which the muscular components of the trunk attach.
- Positioning of the ribcage, spine, and pelvis has a strong influence on both the magnitude and quality of trunk stability.
Because how we breathe affects the position and shape of our skeleton and this position has a huge influence on our ability to create stability and move it is vital that we address breathing if we want to have a positive effect on our performance.
- Origin: Central tendon
- Costal Division: inner surface of the 7th-12th ribs
- Spinal Division: vertebral bodies of L1-L3
- Action: Caudal translation of the central tendon, upward rotation of the 7-12th ribs
- Innervation: Phrenic Nerve (C3-5),Vegus Nerve
- Comprised of a horizontally oriented, non-contractile central
- tendon surrounded by vertically oriented muscle fibers.
- Divides the thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity.
Stabilization Begins with concentric contraction of the thoracic diaphragm!
Caudal movement of the diaphragm compresses the abdominal contents and pushes them into the torso musculature.
This simple but many times overlooked concept is so important for creating stability in your golf swing and in life. Without a properly functioning diaphragm, we will rely on passive structure for stability. In many cases, this is the lumbar spine. This can result in back problems.
When the diaphragm is working efficiently the abdominal wall will then eccentrically activate in opposition to this outward-pushing force. This is the key to stability and creating a brace. This is like wearing a natural weight belt!
ANALYSIS OF DIAPHRAGM MOVEMENT DURING TIDAL BREATHING AND DURING ACTIVATION WHILE BREATH HOLDING USING MRI SYNCHRONIZED WITH SPIROMETRY Kolar et. al | Journal of Physiological Research 2009
Methods: MRI and spirometry were used to measure diaphragm movement during isometric activation of upper extremity movement against resistance with and without respiration.
Results: Significant diaphragm contraction was noted during resisted shoulder flexion (isometric activation)
Conclusion: The diaphragm contributes to both respiration and stabilization
The sequence of Events for creating stability
- Concentric contraction of the diaphragm
(Generates the outward-pushing force within the abdomen)
- Eccentric activation of abdominal wall & pelvic floor
(Regulate the volume and therefore pressure within the abdomen)
- Such activity occurs Pre-flexively and is controlled by the subcortex.
Any disfunction in this subcortical stabilizing strategy will produce stubborn movement pathology.
Think about your golf swing and any movement in the gym.
When our breathing is off we will compensate in other areas. This tends to take place throughout the ventral cavity.
Open Scissors Posture
- Hyper-activity of the spinal erectors
- Poor abdominal activation
- Elevated ribcage
- Oblique positioning of the diaphragm and pelvic floor
This is a self-perpetuating cycle.
As these muscles activate, they drive the spine farther into extension and Antivert the pelvis, even more, creating more instability. Also, instead of IAP, this strategy utilizes excessive compression of the spine in an attempt to stabilize it. This massively increases the intradiscal pressure and overloads the neural arch leading to both acute and chronic pathology.
What we teach:
First, we teach awareness of breath. Once awareness is developed, we can start to manipulate the breath and move it to areas we want. We teach the athlete to be able to EXPAND their back and abdomen during inspiration, to be able to maintain abdominal activation during expiration, and then maintain this IAP during movement. When this is achieved the proper stability will be utilized and separation can take place which will lead to increased power in the golf swing.
These principles can also be applied to asymmetries to restore more balance to our bodies.
The bottom line is how we breathe is very important for both our minds and bodies! It has a huge impact on our quality of movement and therefore our ability to execute a golf swing. Airflow impacts our skeleton and therefore influences our ability to create force. Breathing in certain ways and certain positions can change joint range of motions. Inhaling creates global expansion and exhaling creates global compression. We can use this to change the structure.
First, we need to learn to observe the breath.
This is fairly simple but still very difficult.
The idea is to bring your awareness to the breath and begin to follow it. When you catch yourself in thought simply bring your awareness back to the breath. This will also enhance your mental focus.
Try the exercise below for a better connection to your breath.
Now that we have a simple understanding of bringing awareness to our breath we can start to incorporate positional breathing with the intention of changing our ability to move, brace and create force. https://youtu.be/no0Zr8XNT2Y
The PFS hopes you find this helpful! The real art in all this is how it is put together for your goals and desired outcomes.
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For Brandon, fitness has been his passion for as long as he can remember. In high school he was a three-sport athlete and received a scholar athlete award in football. Later, he attended Arizona State University on an academic scholarship and received his degree in Kinesiology in 2004. When he was a junior in college, he started Personal Training and has since turned this into his career. Brandon is a natural teacher who is passionate about health, fitness, wellness, and life. Each and every day he feels blessed to be able to do what he loves most…help people achieve a healthier life! Working with his best friend and having clients who he considers to be his family is one of the best jobs he could ever wish for. What he loves most about being a personal trainer is helping his clients achieve what they thought was the “impossible”!
Brandon’s philosophy is that exercise and fitness should be viewed as preventive medicine. If one takes care of his/her body today, he/she will stay healthy for the remainder of his/her life. His main focus is on functional training that incorporates normal daily movements which strengthen core muscle groups and help deliver a functionally fit body. This body will then be efficient with all activities, from athletics to everyday movements.