What would you say if I told you that most people don’t understand the 2 most basic and crucial concepts for a great golf fitness program?
Do you know what they are and how to really apply them when you are working in the gym?
Here they are:
MOBILITY and STABILITY
I’m sure you’ve heard both terms used, but I’m going to venture to say that you probably don’t realize how important they are when it comes to designing the right program for you.
And that’s alright because I, like many trainers, didn’t really understand them until I went through some great continuing education courses a few years ago. [The TPI level 1 and 2 fitness course as well as the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA)]
LET’S BOIL THIS DOWN VERY SIMPLY
Don’t make this harder than it has to be.
Think of the term MOBILITY as referring to the amount of movement that occurs at the different joints and areas of the body (ie. Shoulder, hips, low back, upper back, etc).
Think of the term STABILITY as the strength of the joint or the ability to control the movement of the joint.
(as an easy visual, your ankle joint is mobile if it has full range of motion in all directions, but can also be stable because it does not roll as a you rotate into your follow through).
All of our joints need some degree of both mobility and stability.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF MOBILITY?
Let’s use the golf swing to answer this question, since that’s really why you’re here.
In order to make a perfect golf swing, no matter what style or swing theory you abide by, there are certain physical movements that must be made.
These movements require certain areas of you body (like your upper back, hips, and shoulders) to move through a relatively standard amount of motion.
If one or more of those joints do not have the MOBILITY needed to make that motion, this is a problem. And the only way to get around that restriction and still make that swing is for another body part to compensate in one way or another.
This typically causes some sort of swing fault and in many cases, can result in an injury.
WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH STABILITY?
First of all, if a joint does not have enough STABILITY it can simply cause extra movement in your swing, which we know is never a good thing.
Lack of stability can lead to extra stress on the joints, muscles, and connective tissues in the body, which again lead to injury.
But another issue is that lack of STABILITY can mimic a lack of MOBILITY.
The best real world example I can give here is that many clients come in to our gym claiming that they don’t have a large enough shoulder turn for their backswing. But when I sit them down and I physically rotate their shoulders, some of them have more than enough rotation.
So what’s the issue? The problem is that they don’t have the strength or STABILITY in the upper back to be able to actively rotate themselves that far.
So they have the MOBILITY to make the full turn, but don’t have the STABILITY to make the move in their swing yet.
WHY DOES THAT MATTER?
This is why these 2 concepts are so important. In this situation above, most of these clients have been told that they need to stretch into rotation more, which is not what I would recommend they do.
What they need is more strength in that motion, not more mobility.
A great quote that I heard years ago is . . .
“Flexibility [mobility] without strength [stability] equals laxity”
Which means if you have a flexible joint and you make it more flexible without making it stronger, you simply have a looser joint, which can be a recipe for injury.
MY ADVICE IS THIS . . .
If you know it’s a mobility problem, tackle that first. Find out how to stretch that body part or regain the proper motion. Because if you truly don’t have the mobility, there is no way the body can do what you are asking of it.
If you have the mobility, but your stability just isn’t there, then work on some strengthening and coordination exercises to make sure the muscles are working properly and to increase your force.
I don’t expect you to be able to evaluate yourself and determine which joints are lacking stability and mobility like a therapist or trainer would be able to. My goal here is to simply make you aware of these concepts so you have a little better understanding as to what different exercises and stretches may or may not be good for you.
If you have repetitive injuries or swing issues that you simply have not been able to fix, there may be something here that brings the real issue to light.
As always, if you feel like you may be struggling with something that isn’t being resolved by your practice and regular workouts, maybe it’s time to have a professional give you a little guidance.
As always, thanks for taking the time to read this article. If I can help, fire away with your questions in the comments section below.
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