CUT TO THE CORE FOR A GOOD SWING
Australian National Champion Powerlifter
A review of studies that was recently published in Strength and Conditioning Journal found that the big difference between the Pro golfer and the average hacker is how they use the muscles around their core. For the Pros, everything starts at the core – they're stronger in this region, they activate the muscles sooner and they have the endurance to hold their form hole after hole. With a little help from 2XU Compression, you can be on your way to the core control and activation the Pros enjoy.
The golf swing – especially the downswing – may seem like a momentum-type movement, but in reality it includes very precise bodily movement as a result of rapid, exact, and powerful muscle contraction from specific core muscles through the abdomen, lower back and buttocks. The review of literature on core muscle activation in the golf swing, carried out at the University of Zululand, South Africa, noted that conditioning and better activation of these muscles enhanced each phase of the swing, delivering benefits such as lower handicap levels, better muscle endurance and less fatigue within a game. The authors of the review also noted three studies that concluded that the majority of golf players experiencing lower back pain had little abdominal muscle activation and they tended to have weak core muscles.
A kinematic study of Professional Golfer's Association tour professionals, using a motion analyzer, showed that approximately 70% of Professional Golf Players initiate the downswing from their pelvis. Researchers found that regardless of the golfers' level, they all tend to rely on the same muscle groups throughout different phases of the golf swing. The difference between the Pros and the amateurs occur in slight differences in technique and/or muscle activation patterns. For example, the researchers found that skilled players had earlier trunk horizontal rotation with rapid weight transfer to trail foot during backswing and earlier pelvic horizontal rotation accompanied with earlier weight transfer to the lead foot during downswing motion.
Researchers looked specifically at the downswing because they considered it to be of greater value than the backswing when it comes to the ball landing where you want it to, plus there is an emphasis on the generation of speed – a Pro's downswing is generally all over within approximately 300 milliseconds.The fact that the Pros initiated the downswing from their pelvis is a big deal, because it
linked to earlier observations (e.g. in Optimising Performance in Golf, published through the University of Griffith) that concluded that the pelvis and pelvis-related muscles are also responsible for a rapid movement followed by progressively faster rotations of the upper body as the point of impact nears.
There are a number of ways that 2XU's Golf Compression Top and Compression Shorts can help bring your action closer to what the Pros have honed over thousands of rounds. 2XU Compression heightens ‘postural awareness' – the awareness of the alignment and position of the body in relationship to gravity, centre of mass and base of support. This in turn encourages the correct spinal alignment (via better control of the core) and positioning. With the spine and core better aligned, it's then easier for you to have better proprioception (a sense or awareness of where different parts of your body are in relation to each other), which in turn improves swing dynamics and consistency.
The specific muscle group within the pelvic region that generally initiates the downswing movement is the oblique group; the rest of the movement in this phase being supported by the rectus abdominis, gluteal and quadriceps muscle groups. Once you learn to focus on contracting these muscles more than other muscles during the downswing, you'll be on your way to a more rapid rotation movement through the swing.
2XU Compression's assistance in heightening postural awareness will help you link the connective chain that goes from the lower body and torso through to the arms/hands.
While we're talking a lot about the importance of the abdominal and lower back regions, much of the control comes from a solid base lower down. In fact, in the kinematic study mentioned above, the authors concluded that skilled golf players have less upper trunk horizontal rotation and more posterior pelvic rotation at follow-through when compared with low skilled golf players. This posterior pelvic rotation is largely initiated through the gluteal muscles (buttocks) and the quadriceps.
The 2XU Golf Compression Shorts use a combination of PWX FLEX and extra powerful PWX WEIGHT fabrics that are engineered to switch on key golf muscles. This in turn help control pelvic swaying in the swing and promotes the postural stability for a quality rotation and therefore increased power.
The review also pointed to a study that showed that golf players who experience fatigue will “unwillingly alter their approach to the golf swing”. In other words, just like in any other sport – whether it's running, lifting, boxing, swimming – when you get fatigued, your technique falls to pieces. This is just another area where 2XU Golf Compression Tops and Shorts can help – by providing support and increasing blood flow to key muscles, the compression garments can help reduce fatigue.
So the verdict is in – the authors of the review conclude that less skilled golf players should focus on developing abdominal and gluteus strength and aim to improve the conditioning of these regions. However, it's not all about raw strength – a lot still comes down to having a heightened awareness of these muscle groups (and those of the lower back) in order to activate them faster and earlier than other muscle groups (e.g. shoulders, upper torso, arms), especially on the downswing. That's where 2XU Golf Compression Garments can help.