Flexibility is vital to achieve and maintain a fluid and consistent golf swing. It allows the golfer to maintain tempo while minimizing stress on the muscles and joints utilized in the swing.
Given the rotation requirements of the golf swing, the leg must be able to rotate inward (i.e. internal hip rotation) at least 30 degrees. However, a great number of golfers do not have the flexibility to achieve the minimum range required for golf. This will place stress on the hip joint and the muscles crossing the hip, specifically the inner thigh muscles.
The inner thigh muscles may become strained when performing the golf swing and tighten as a result. These tight muscles will restrict the inward rotation of the hip. The lead side hip will be affected to a greater degree based on the force and range of movement of the follow-through although both hips tend to become problematic. This strain-tighten cycle continues over time in the development of a golfer’s game, reducing a golfers flexibility and compromising tempo, consistency and power.
In general, a golfer’s muscle tightness most commonly results from strain. It is the muscles adaptive response to the injury to protect itself from further trauma. In addition, strain can further cause weakness in the muscle which thereby tightens the muscle even more.
The foam roller is an excellent tool available to golfers to effectively address muscle tightness and injury. A foam roller is used for self-myofascial release to reduce tightness and break down scar tissue developed from micro-trauma in the muscle tissue. This will restore function to the muscle and improve the ability of the muscle to elongate. Ultimately, flexibility will improve.
To achieve the best results when rolling, proper body position and technique must be utilized. Position the roller perpendicular to the muscle. Imagine a line down the centre of the muscle and divide the line into 1-4 inch segments. Roll in a steady back and forth motion for 5-10 seconds per segment. Keep in mind that the shorter the segment rolled the deeper the release. Roll to tolerance; the myofascial release should be uncomfortable but not painful.
Two key muscles for golfers to roll are the glutes and inner thigh.
To view pictures of these exercises, visit: www.rollrelease.com/exercises/exercises/exercises.html
Dr. Ryan Emmons