As a golfer, you want to stay injury-free to practice and compete regularly, which ultimately lets you hone your skills and elevate your performance. To help avoid injury and boost your level of play, you need to understand how two key muscle and soft-tissue systems– the posterior oblique system and the anterior oblique system–affect the golf swing.
Justin Price, MA, 2006 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year and creator of The Bio Mechanics Method, which provides corrective-exercise education for health and fitness professionals, describes these systems and gives exercises to strengthen them.
Posterior Oblique System
The posterior oblique system consists of muscles, fascia and connective tissue that run diagonally across the back of the torso and hips. Its primarily muscles are the gluteus maximus and latissimus dorsi. This cross-body myofascial system enables you to create power and force to hit the ball farther while reducing the stress and averting potential injury to bony structures in the knees hips and lower back, shoulders and arms (Chek 1994; Myers 2008).
Anterior Oblique Movements
Golf swings also rely on the anterior oblique system’s adductor muscles and external obliques on the opposite side of the body (Chek 1992). Like the muscles of the posterior oblique system, these tissues work in a cross-body fashion during a golf swing. When a right handed golfer takes a backswing, the left hip/leg externally rotates as the pelvis, spine and shoulders rotate clockwise (when viewed from above). As the pelvis and torso move away from the left leg, the left adductor group of muscles and right external oblique muscles lengthen under tension. The tautness that this creates in the system reduces potential for injury to the hips, sacroiliac joint, spine, rib cage and shoulder girdle during the backswing. Releasing this tension produces a forceful downward rotation to let you hit the ball farther (Bradley 2013). Once3 the ball is struck, the right adductors and the left external obliques (on the other side of the body) lengthen to decelerate overall stress to the skeleton.
SPECIFIC EXERCISES FOR GOLFERS:
- LUNGE WITH ROTATION: This exercise strengthens the posterior oblique system by increasing the internal rotation of the hip/leg and boosting torso rotation. Lunge forward with your left leg, keeping your spine erect and shoulders level. As you lunge forward, reach down and gently pull your left knee toward the midline of your body while swinging your left arm behind you. As you rotate your torso, keep your left foot firmly in contact with the ground. As you stand up out of the lunge, back to center. Perform 10-15 repetitions on each side of the body. Do 2-3 sets.
- SWISS BALL SIDE LUNGE: This exercise strengthens the anterior oblique system by increasing external rotation of the hip/leg and boosting torso rotation. Transferring weight onto the standing leg during this exercise also strengthens the posterior oblique system. Place your left foot on a gym ball as you balance yourself with the right leg. Roll the gym ball out to your left side with your left foot as you perform a single-leg squat with your right leg. As you squat, rotate your arms over your right leg as though you were taking a backswing in golf. Try to keep your right knee toward the midline as you perform this movement. Placing more weight on your left leg (on top of the ball) stresses the anterior oblique system during movement, while putting more weight on your right eg strengthens the posterior oblique system. Perform 10-15 repetitions on each side. Do 2-3 sets.