One of the best ways to improve your golf swing might surprise you. First of all, put down those dumbbells, because it has nothing to do with pumping iron. Instead, it’s all about building a mind-body connection. “Being aware of what your body is doing is probably one of the most important pieces of how a golfer becomes a better golfer,” says physical therapist Diana Zotos-Florio, PT, CSCS, a certified yoga teacher and co-founder of Threes Physiyoga Method (a movement practice that combines yoga with PT principles). “You can do all the push ups and side planks in the world. But if you don’t understand how that connects to make you a better golfer, I don’t think it’s gonna make you a better golfer.”
The way you do that is by understanding what your body does during your best golf swing, and by being aware and in control of that movement pattern every time. “It’s all about consistency and muscle memory,” Zotos-Florio says. “The better you can get at repeating your best golf swing, the better you’ll be at golf.”
Zotos-Florio explains that while a golf swing is a full body movement, the power comes from your hips and core as you twist your spine. So golfers should focus on creating a solid foundation for “trunk rotation” while working out. You’ll want to start with the practices below.
1. Find your footing
“Give yourself permission to really feel your feet in your shoes,” Zotos-Florio says. “Feel space across the base of all five of your toes, feel really wide in your feet. And then see if you can get yourself grounded so that your weight isn’t shifting too far back into your heels, or too far forward into your toes.”
By grounding yourself, you’ll be fully present in your body. But also physically you’ll be setting yourself up for proper alignment, which will allow your knees, hips, core, and spine to all move better.
2. Create space and movement in your spine
Zotos-Florio explains you should think of your spine during a golf swing like a spiral staircase. In order to get your spine to twist fully and fluidly, you want to think of lengthening across both a vertical and a horizontal axis. For the horizontal axis, you want to enable movement in your thoracic spine, which is the area across your shoulder blades. That requires slightly rounding your back horizontally, rather than compressing it like you would when you’re standing rigidly straight. “By having this feeling of wideness across your mid back between your shoulder blades–not roundedness–but by expanding from left to right in your shoulder blades, you free up rotation,” Zotos-Florio explains.
To practice achieving this looseness, you can pretend like you’re hugging a beach ball, really engaging your lats (those muscles that live under your armpits on your sides and support your shoulders) as you widen your back. You can also cross your arms over your chest, like you’re giving yourself a hug, to feel that roundness if you’re having trouble engaging on your own, or employ a yoga strap. Place the strap just under your shoulder blades and hold the ends in each of your hands. Round your back into the strap while keeping it taut while you practice your rotation.
To stretch your spine along the vertical axis, you can think of it like a slinky. Ground yourself in your feet, and practice growing taller without puffing out your chest or jutting out your chin.
3. Take deep breaths
Another way to both widen across your thoracic spine, and connect with your body, is through diaphragmatic breathing.
“Think about someone having their hands on your mid back, like where your bra strap line is,” Zotos-Florio says. “Think about taking a deep breath into those hands, breathing and widening into the bra strap. Take a three count inhale, and a three count exhale. That’s a diaphragmatic breath.”
You can do these exercises every day, and Zotos-Florio suggests them as a great way to warm up for a round of golf, too. So the next time you hit the links, take a moment to embody your feet, lengthen your spine, broaden across your mid-back, and breathe deep. Your body (and golf score) will thank you for it.
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Tags: Fitness Tips