Golf Performance Training Part III: One of the two most common “Dysfunctional Syndromes” found in golf athletes and how to correct it.
By: J.C. Moreau
As we discussed in our last article, when many of thus think of poor balance or “balance training” we revert back to some high wire walking act or standing on one leg, on a stability ball (or Half ball) with our eyes closed and one finger on our nose , with the opposite arm performing counter clockwise circles….. Although this would be impressive in its own way, balance is actually something far more simple, unfortunately it is also a problem we see far too often. What we call a lack of balance is typically a lack of strength in a particular range of motion. They are often the same areas that impact our posture, and almost all athletic movement. Most of you who know me are aware that I believe (poor) posture is the single biggest downfall of many athletes! Without the muscular balance, strength and endurance to get into good posture position and maintain it, one will never maximize their ability and their likelihood of being injured will increase astronomically. This is why a Functional Movement Screen or something similar is absolutely critical before starting ANY exercise program. What we typically find is that overuse, underuse, lifestyle factors and a person’s job always lead to certain imbalances and everyone is different, but there are a few that are relatively universal and it is those will look at identifying and correcting today.
Due to the fact that most of us sit, with poor posture, for several hours a day (working, watching television, driving, sitting in class, in front of a computer screen, reading etc…) there are certain structural deficiencies that are common among a large percentage of the population. The two most common of these have been grouped into somewhat generalized “syndromes”. Although it is not mandatory for someone to demonstrate EVERY dysfunction associated with each, we can categorize an individual as having one or both of these if they display several of the characteristics associated with the syndrome in question.
The two most common syndromes seen by performance coaches and physical therapists are the Upper and Lower Crossed Syndrome. Each of these is more than simply a weak or tight muscle, but rather a series of several weak, tight and/or overactive muscular structures that display a dysfunctional movement patterns. These are largely initiated by one or more aspects of our lifestyle (such as sitting in a slouched position for 10 hours a day). The symptoms, and corresponding patterns, became so commonly seen by physical therapists, chiropractors and doctors that they were given names, and both syndromes makes proper stability and balance nearly impossible to accomplish. Since balance must be maintained at every single stage of the golf swing, possessing one or both of these makes this nearly impossible.
Lower Crossed Syndrome (LCS) is often the result of sitting for several hours a day. This condition was first identified by Dr. Vladimir Janda of the Czech Republic who also hypothesized that muscles which are short or contracted for extended periods will eventually cause a neuromuscular response that results in the weakening of the muscle/group on the opposite side of the body. For example, Janda’s theory would say that long period of static sitting lead to tight and shortened hip flexors, and that the glutes (which are on the posterior and opposite side of the body) will gradually shut down. Other patterns seen in individuals who display LCS are tight lower back muscles and weak glutes and abdominals. These individuals often develop excessive arch in their lower back, anterior pelvic tilt, tight hamstrings and quads and weak and flabby glutes and abdominals. This combination of imbalances will almost always lead to some form of pain and discomfort when the golf swing is repeated often and no corrective work is performed, as performance coaches it is exactly the prevention of this that we seek to accomplish with our athletes.
In addition to the increased chance of injury, LCS wreaks havoc on balance and negatively impacts several parts of the golf swing. The positive to be taken from this is that nearly all of these flaws can be corrected through proper evaluation, and a subsequent program of corrective exercises. Fortunately in most cases the same holds true for those suffering from the series of muscular imbalances collectively known as Upper Crossed Syndrome.
LCS: Although LCS can include far more than simply weak abs and glutes and tight hip flexors, hamstrings, low back erectors and quads we will briefly look at some common and relatively simple ways to correct these deficiencies with minimal equipment and time. With that said exceptional consistency will be needed to see any noticeable results. The one piece of equipment that will be required is a foam roller which can be purchased at wal-mart for under $20. Eventually another would be dumbbells, which can be bought in units that have one pair that can be set at 5-50 pounds or more and can cost under $200, far less than purchasing 10+ pairs of dumbbells to have all of those weights.
LCS Corrective Work:
Foam Roller: Hip Flexors, Hamstrings, Calfs, Quads, Glutes and IT band
Plank Holds in a PERFECT position: 2 x 10 sec. –Abs drawn in, Head neutral, Hips slightly raised and Glutes contracted. Once perfected progress to A, then from A to B etc…
- Single Leg (SL) Plank 2 x 5 sec. ea. B. Single Arm (SA) Plank with feet widened 2 x 5 sec. ea. C. Opposing Arm and Leg elevated 2 x 5 sec. ea. (ex. right arm and left leg)
*Go from 5 sec. to 10 sec. on each movement and perfect that before moving to next level of difficulty.
Glute Bridge: Hold 2 x 10 sec. – Brace Core, Squeeze Glutes, Relax Hamstrings
2 Ft. Raise and Hold 2 sec. x 5 reps x 2 sets
(Once these are perfected) SL Hold 2 x 10 sec.
SL Raise w/2 sec. hold x 5 x 2 sets ea. leg.
Backward Lunge w/Arms Extended Overhead and Rotate: 2 x 10 ea. leg – 4 sec. descent – Place hands directly overhead so that arms are beside ears-. Contract glute of front leg to push hip flexor forward-Do not lean to side, back or front, rather twist over front leg and keep arms straight overhead
* Hold a 5 or 10 lbs DB at face level and press directly overhead at same time as lunge and hold overhead during rotation
Single Leg Reach or DB RDL (Very light – Balance): 2 x 8ea. leg – Slow and Controlled – maintain PERFECT posture with shoulder blades pulled back. With arm on the side of raised leg reach out directly straight ahead so that there is a straight line from the top of the hand to the back of the heel and return to standing position.
*Eventually use light DBs in both hands and let weight descend down leg until torso and leg are roughly parallel to the ground. Essentially the body will be like a pendulum
Good Mornings: 2 x 15-20 – Stand tall with hand behind head- Do NOT pull head forward- Unlock knees and push hips back while allowing chest to come forward. Back should remain set and flat and torso should NOT go passed parallel to the floor. Once hips go back as far as possible return to standing position- Keep weigh on heels and be sure that knees are unlocked but do not bend any further.
*Gradually move to DB RDL, which is similar but DBs will be be held at upper thigh and slide down leg as hips move back and chest comes forward. Once hips reach back as far as possible return to the start position while keeping DBs touching legs the entire time. Maintain Perfect posture!
Explosive Hip Extension: Any bodyweight jumps, DB Jump Shrug, Kettle Bell Swings, Plyometrics etc…. 2-5 sets of 5-8 reps on explosive movements and 10-15 on slower more controlled movements.
Squat: With feet shoulder width and toes pointing straight ahead or slightly pointed out, keep weight on mid-foot and heels and initiate movement by sitting back. Brace core and pull shoulder blades together- as you descend the torso will lean slightly and the angle of the torso should mimic that of your shins and knees should move forward and stop over toes without passing them-descend until thighs are bellow parallel and return up by driving up through heels- Chest and hips should rise simultaneously
*Add weight in form of a goblet squat, bar squat, front squat etc… Only do so once form is PERFECT!
Static Stretch: Always at the end of workout and focus on hip flexors, quads, hamstrings and hold each for 20-40 seconds.
**As with any exercise program talk to your physician before starting any exercise routine and seek the assistance of a personal trainer or performance coach for proper instruction of each of these exercises. A list of qualified trainers in your region can be found at www.amSTATZ.com
Contact us at Email JC or call 479-530-8254 for a further progression or with questions/concerns.