THE THREE PILLARS OF GOLF MOBILITY
Logically, we all know that moving better can always help our golf game. It allows us to swing more freely. We can expand out our shot selection by reaching new stances of mobility. Plus, we just feel better in our everyday lives.
You’ve probably seen pros like DJ or Rory reach insane positions, and it is a big part of why they are able to do what they do on the course. Whether it’s their hips, shoulders, wrists, or T-spine, they have the ability to reach an orientation that optimizes the golf swing.
You’ve also probably seen flexible and naturally athletic people- the kind who have no problem bending over or reaching athletic positions. Often, we dismiss this to being “young” or “springy” or my personal favorite, as having “natural pliability”.
But what if I told you that the ability to move like this was something you could train? You too can improve your range of motion and physical capabilities, maybe not to the level of the pros, but easily beyond where you are now.
So, why is mobility for golf important? And how do you stay mobile, for your golf swing specifically, as you age?
MOBILITY FOR GOLFERS- WHY IT'S IMPORTANT
For starters, golf is a rotational sport. For any activity in which we rotate and shift planes of motion in a sequence, having good proprioception and awareness of your body, combined with the ability to reach compromised positions, pays dividends for our scores.
Additionally, being more mobile also reduces your risk of injury as you age. When we get older, our bodies go through many stages of degeneration- whether it be our muscle mass, bone density, or tendon strength. Although this is unavoidable, studies have shown almost linear increases between how mobile people are and their longevity on and off the course. Jumping straight into a round of golf at 50 is a lot different than we were in college. Staying mobile in golf is important because it not just allows us to enjoy the game we love longer, but more fully. If you can’t touch your toes or reach a shaft parallel position with your upper body, then enjoy a day on the links.
In relation to performance, mobility pays huge dividends in hitting the ball a long way. A study by Marshall, 2017 identified that collegiate golfers who scored the highest on the Balance Evaluation Systems Test (BEST) had the longest driving distances on their respective teams; even when handicap and skill level was accounted for. Mobility is the “launchpad” of power and performance- without it, we cannot launch the ship to its full capability.
So, now you know why being mobile is important. You know that is great for your golf game, and quality of life in general. But how do we become mobile, and how do we tailor our efforts in doing so for golf specifically? Here are the three pillars of golf mobility to help you direct your focus.
PILLAR ONE- LIFESTYLE
Before getting into specifics, it is important to make sure you take care of the biggest priority- yourself. No mobility routine or workout program is going to make the impact it could unless you are:
1.) Getting enough quality sleep.
2.) Making daily movement a priority.
3.) Eating high quality foods.
Without doing something in the realms of each of these every day, your mobility will certainly suffer over time. The biggest needle-mover in your mobility progression, as well as delaying the deterioration of the mobility you already have, lies here. As unexciting as it may sound, make sure you have the foundation set before we start building the house.
PILLAR TWO- TEST AND ASSESS
At Par4Success, we always prioritize full movement capability of the four main rotary centers. These are:
4) Hips (Internal and External Rotation)
Take our free at-home assessment. This will give you a great place to start in terms of where to direct your efforts. If you fail the tests for any of these foundational rotary centers, there’s a good chance that your mobility is a limiting factor for you. It also gives a general sense of what areas need the most attention in terms of movement.
PILLAR THREE- REPETITION
We’ve all heard the phrase “consistency is key”, and this could not be truer than with stretching. Unfortunately, because mobility and flexibility can be transient (meaning the effects ebb and flow over time) being consistent with your routine, whatever it may be, is especially critical for optimal results.
The good news is that it is very difficult to “overdo” it when it comes to addressing your mobility. Unlike activities that have a diminishing point of return, such as lifting weights, the general “the more the better” principle applies to your mobility routine.
Regardless of the effectiveness of your routine, the important thing is to just get started. As with anything, progress will occur over time, but putting in the initial investment of just a few minutes a day can, over time, be the difference between you enjoying golf into your seventies, and being unable to get off the couch.
As we discussed, doing something is better than nothing. Going on walks, moving more, touching your toes a few times a day- all these things will benefit you if you aren’t doing them already. If you’re committed to improving your mobility for golf specifically, here a few exercises that target the four main rotary centers we talked about to include in a routine:
- Hip circles
- Open books
- 90/90 hip stretch
- Pigeon stretch
- Glute bridges
- Neck rotations
- Shoulder internal/external rotations
- Arm circles
- Hip swings
- Couch stretch
- Side-lying thoracic rotations…
… and many, many more. You can see demonstrations of these stretches, and many more, on our Par4Success YouTube channel.
Getting started and prioritizing mobility should be something you should learn to enjoy because it takes time. However, once you start seeing (and feeling!) the benefits of how increased mobility and flexibility benefit not just your golf game, but your quality of life, putting an emphasis on stretching will become second nature. You, too, can become the “naturally pliable” genotype in your foursome you used to be envious of.
Golf Performance Intern