Here’s How To Strengthen Your Core For Golf

In my previous article I showed you how to unleash the longest drives by creating a controlled whip in your body.

Creating a controlled whip in your body requires that you have proximal stability.

What is proximal stability?

People who operate heavy machinery know the concept of proximal stability very well.

Let’s take the backhoe as an example.

Before the operator can dig, he or she must hold the machine to the ground by putting down stabilizers.

These are called outriggers.

If the operator doesn’t stabilize the machine first with these outriggers, then the tractor part of the machine will move all over the place when he or she attempts to dig.

It would be like trying to shoot a canon out of a canoe – you cannot do this.

The outriggers provide the backhoe with proximal stability.

When it comes to your body, proximal stability is provided by the muscles of your core  and is usually referred to as core stability.

Core stability allows your hips and shoulders to do work just like the outriggers of the backhoe allow the hoe to do work.

And when it comes to golf, core stability unleashes speed and athleticism to your hips and shoulders.

What is your core?

Your spine is a flexible rod – it’s designed to flex, extend, and twist.

That is, your spine is designed for movement.

Problem is, a flexible rod cannot bear load. 

Think of trying to balance a heavy load on top of a fishing rod – it’s impossible.

However, if you provide the fishing rod with a guy-wire system to stabilize it, it would be able to bear a heavy load with no difficulty.

Your spine is no different.  

In order to bear load, your spine requires a 3-dimensional guy-wire system to hold it up.

This guy-wire system is provided by your core muscles.

The names of the individual muscles that make up your core are not important for our purposes, but they include your back, abdominal, and oblique muscle groups.

All of these muscles are important – they’re arranged to work and enhance the action of each other.

The important thing to understand is that the purpose of core stability is not to create power.

 The purpose of core stability is to brace and transfer power to and from your hips and shoulders.

Just like the outriggers on the backhoe are not there to move the machine – they are there to brace and stop the machine from moving and to transfer power to the hoe.

Now remember in a previous article I showed you why it’s dangerous to generate spine power – the discs in your spine are not designed to generate power.

Power should be generated by your hips and shoulders and transferred through your stiffened core.

Your core is there to brace and transfer power.

Strength coaches almost always get this wrong.

To illustrate my point, think of the classic six-pack abs.

The reason for the  six-pack appearance is because the rectus abdominus muscle has fascia running though it horizontally and vertically.

This fascia provides the indents that outline the six-pack.

Even if you can’t see your six-pack, trust me the fascia is there just the same.

The reason the fascia is there is because it applies hoop pressure to your core.

Hoop pressure enhances your cores ability to brace and hold.

This is the same type of hoop pressure that metal hoops apply to wooden whiskey barrels, for example.

If that fascia wasn’t there your abdominals would rip apart under the pressure applied to them when you did work.

Just like the wooden barrel would rip apart from the internal pressure from the whiskey if the metal rings weren’t there applying hoop pressure.

So with this in mind, the best way to enhance hoop pressure and core stability is not by doing sits-ups, crunches, Russian twists, or any other exercises that involve spine movement.

The best way to enhance hoop pressure and core stability is by building your capacity to brace and resist movement.

Exercises that exploit this include planks, side planks, bird-dogs, and farmer’s walks, but there are many others.

But there’s still more to the story.

The fibers in the muscle groups in your low back do not run parallel to your spine.

They have an oblique angle of about 45 degrees.

Because of this architecture, they’re able to counteract anterior shear force that’s applied to your lumbar spine.

But the oblique angle of these muscle groups changes from 45 degrees to about 5 degrees if your pelvis is tilted, or your lumbar spine rotated or laterally flexed 

That means these fibers are then basically running parallel to your spine and because of that new arrangement they can no longer counteract anterior shear force.

They are hindered useless in that regard.

Put another way, if you do not maintain neutral spine, the architecture of the muscles in your low back changes leaving your lumbar spine vulnerable to shear force.

In future articles I will apply these concepts to the moment of impact when hitting a golf ball.

Teaser: At the moment of impact your low back is exposed to about 900N of shear force – that’s 200 pounds!!!

In the meantime, be mindful to always maintain good posture – the architecture of your low back is dependent on it.

Here’s a program for you to improve your core stability and enhance your golf athleticism.

Do this routine 3-5 days per week.  Start with just 1 set per exercise for week one, then progress to 2 sets for week 2 for a maximum of 3 sets.

MODIFIED CURL-UP:  5 reps; hold each rep for 5 seconds

SIDE PLANK: 5 reps; hold each rep for 5 seconds then repeat on other side

BIRD-DOG: 5 reps; hold each rep for 5 seconds then repeat on other side

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