Why Regular Stretching Doesn’t Work and has your body putting the brakes on, losing power in your swing
While you may not necessarily feel your body braking, if you aren’t making gains, having consistency, or hitting similar distances whether using a 7,8, or 9 iron, your brain may be putting the brakes on in your swing.
Everyone talks about flexibility in golf, but true flexibility is the muscle’s ability to flex (control movement) both in the shortening and often overlooked lengthening phase.
Just pulling on muscles does not teach the muscle how to accelerate and decelerate. Think of the backswing as a deceleration movement. Muscles are lengthening under tension as you coil into the backswing. The muscles need to have the motor control and strength to appropriately control the deceleration. Without that control, the brain will put brakes on and cheat with other muscle groups, as you watch your ball hook left into the water hazard.
That is why passive stretching often doesn’t create improvement in a serious golfer’s game as the muscles and brain are not learning and improving strength and motor control.
The lengthening under tension or eccentric loading is where the energy gets stored for explosiveness and power for your drive as well as creating strength and stability in your platform. If the brain does not believe there is enough strength to stabilize and control the deceleration and lengthening of the muscles (backswing) and acceleration (downswing), it will put the brakes on somewhere. Deceleration stores the energy for more explosive power, while mini braking leaks out your power. I often see major offenders in underactive muscles in the hips and their inability to decelerate well, resulting in “braking” and poor power transfer, as well as obliques that lack extensibility, limiting the ability to turn and coil better.
When muscle groups lack good “flex”ability other groups will try to make up the difference. This inefficiency leads to compensations and power leaks out of your game (i.e. arm lifting, shifting to the outside of the foot etc.). In an ideal swing the load is evenly distributed throughout the chain with great muscle extensibility and elasticity. Looking for ways to help your body decelerate rather than brake, improving true flex ability, may be a key piece in breaking through to the next level.
Susan Bianchi, MS
Susan is a leader in the field of Resistance Flexibility Training, functional movement and personal development. Susan has her Master of Science degree in Exercise Science and Wellness, is Master Trainer of Ki-Hara Resistance Stretching and one of only 5 in the US qualified to certify other professionals, additional certifications include NKT, NASM, CHEK Institute. Clients include athletes in the NFL, WTA,MLB, WNBA, NCAA Division 1, as well as regular people who want to move, feel and be better.