How to Fix Golf Swing Muscle Imbalances

March 29, 2013 | Mo Skelton

Must See Golf Videos

It's common to try to carry training programs over from one sport to another. A golfer's skills are similar to a pitcher's in some respects: the need for balance, stability, power and mental toughness. Both need the ability to consistently repeat mechanics under pressure. The main differences are the environment and the angle players use to swing. Different angles produce different stresses on the athlete's joints.

It's impossible to train for every eventuality. What's important is to train for the specific physical stresses your sport places on your body.

Golfers use predominantly one side of their bodies, which creates muscle imbalances. Because continued play aggravates the imbalances, it's not always possible to eliminate them. But training for golf should attempt to counter the negative stress and prevent injury.

Here is a breakdown of the stresses a right-handed golfer encounters during the swing.

Upper Body

  • At the beginning of the swing, the labrums on both shoulders are in a compromised position.
  • The rotator cuff muscles are stretched and firing to stabilize the arm while preparing for a fast ride.
  • The right arm ends in a position that places high stress on the labrum and the tendon of the long head of the biceps.
  • Stabilizing the head of the humerus and slowing down the arm at the end of the swing challenge the rotator cuff muscles.

To counteract these issues, golfers need to pay strict attention to training their shoulders. Strengthening the shoulders provides additional protection against the stresses of the repetitive movements in a swing.

A golfer's upper-body strength training should include:

To ensure safety to their joints, golfers need to avoid:

  • Excessive overhead pressing
  • Olympic lifts
  • Overhead Squats

Middle Body (Back and Abdominals)

A swing requires significant range of motion in the neck and full back so a golfer can swing without pulling their head and eyes away from the ball. When the neck rotates, it must also effectively bend sideways. If a golfer lacks the ability to fully rotate, the body will compensate by increasing stress on the lumbar and cervical spine. To offset this, the spinal extensors, abdominals and obliques must be trained effectively.

Golfers should focus on:

Lower Body

During a swing's transition, golfers demand a lot of their hips. As the body shifts from a lateral to a vertical plane within one quick motion, the hips must begin to stabilize and rotate up to 180 degrees. During the lateral movements of the down swing and weight shift, the hip abductors stabilize while the glutes and rotators generate power. (See also Stability Training to Improve Your Golf Swing.)

Maintaining mobility, power and strength in the hips requires a golfer to do more than read putts.

To improve hip mobility, golfers should incorporate:

To strengthen their hips, golfers should incorporate:

To improve power, golfers should incorporate:

Training alternatives

Although many nuances of the game need to perfected, golfers must do more than hit balls on the driving range. Getting to the gym for strength training is important, but other modes are also effective:

  • Yoga to improve mobility, balance and decrease stress
  • Aquatic exercissa for strength and power to limit joint loading and alleviate pain
  • Tabata intervals on a bike to improve endurance, maintain power and reduce joint stress
Topics: GOLF
Mo Skelton
- Mo Skelton is a physical therapist at McCurtain Memorial Hospital (Idabel, Okla.) and is the founder of F.A.S.T. Sports Performance. He also serves as...
Mo Skelton
- Mo Skelton is a physical therapist at McCurtain Memorial Hospital (Idabel, Okla.) and is the founder of F.A.S.T. Sports Performance. He also serves as...
Must See
Dashon Goldson: Dashon Goldson: "You Just Gotta Have Heart"
Views: 5,028,584
Dwyane Wade Leads by Example Dwyane Wade Leads by Example
Views: 6,816,610
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 6,899,498

Featured Videos

Basketball Shooting Drill: Kevin Love's Turn-and-Shoot Drill Basketball Shooting Drill: Kevin Love's Turn-and-Shoot Drill Views: 1,877
SEALFIT: Pushing the Limits of What Athletes Are Capable Of SEALFIT: Pushing the Limits of What Athletes Are Capable Of
Athletic Gaines: Get Faster With Weighted Sled Pushes Athletic Gaines: Get Faster With Weighted Sled Pushes
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive
Views: 6,060,319
Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach
Views: 8,690,923
Dustin Pedroia on Training Dustin Pedroia on Training
Views: 10,919,916
Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker
Views: 29,852
Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose
Views: 3,539,390

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
Kevin Love's In-Season Workout

Kevin Love's In-Season Workout

Jump Higher After a Month With These 3 Exercises

Jump Higher After a Month With These 3 Exercises

Build Bulletproof Chest Strength With This Unconventional Method

Build Bulletproof Chest Strength With This Unconventional Method

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

5 Quick Workout Fixes for Faster Muscle Growth

5 Quick Workout Fixes for Faster Muscle Growth

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

3 Reasons Why You Should Do Full-Body Workouts

3 Reasons Why You Should Do Full-Body Workouts

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

4 Tips for Reducing Deadlift Back Pain

4 Tips for Reducing Deadlift Back Pain

Add Surprise Sets for a Great Workout Finisher

Add Surprise Sets for a Great Workout Finisher

Increase Athletic Strength with Rotational Bodyweight Training

Increase Athletic Strength with Rotational Bodyweight Training

Abby Wambach's Soccer Power Workout

Abby Wambach's Soccer Power Workout

Train Like a Pro: Julio Jones 3-Day Sandbag Strength Program

Train Like a Pro: Julio Jones 3-Day Sandbag Strength Program

Todd Durkin's Complete Football Strength Training Program

Todd Durkin's Complete Football Strength Training Program

Build a Strong Upper Body With These Landmine Exercises

Build a Strong Upper Body With These Landmine Exercises

Speed Drill of the Day: Reverse Lunges

Speed Drill of the Day: Reverse Lunges

3 Keys to Better Softball Workouts

3 Keys to Better Softball Workouts

Train Like a Pro: Los Angeles Lakers Strength Training Program

Train Like a Pro: Los Angeles Lakers Strength Training Program

Tobin Heath's Powerful Leg Workout

Tobin Heath's Powerful Leg Workout

Build Strong Legs with the Leg Press Lockdown Workout

Build Strong Legs with the Leg Press Lockdown Workout

The Top 10 Mistakes Athletes Make in the Weight Room

The Top 10 Mistakes Athletes Make in the Weight Room

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

Why Your Instagram Box Jump Isn't That Impressive

Why Your Instagram Box Jump Isn't That Impressive

2 Brutal 10-Minute Workouts That Deliver Serious Results

2 Brutal 10-Minute Workouts That Deliver Serious Results

Train Like a Pro: Henrik Zetterberg's Hockey Strength Workout

Train Like a Pro: Henrik Zetterberg's Hockey Strength Workout

Bicep Curl Grip Guide: How Hand Placement Changes the Exercise

Bicep Curl Grip Guide: How Hand Placement Changes the Exercise

Use Sled Pushes to Increase Speed, Strength and Power

Use Sled Pushes to Increase Speed, Strength and Power

3 Keys to a Solid Squat Setup

3 Keys to a Solid Squat Setup

Get Faster With This Weightlifting Technique

Get Faster With This Weightlifting Technique

How You Can Olympic Lift With an Injury

How You Can Olympic Lift With an Injury

Train Like a Pro: James Harden's Basketball Maintenance Workout

Train Like a Pro: James Harden's Basketball Maintenance Workout

3 Habits of Highly Successful Coaches

3 Habits of Highly Successful Coaches

The Un-Liftable Inch Dumbbell: Can You Handle Its Challenge?

The Un-Liftable Inch Dumbbell: Can You Handle Its Challenge?

Speed Drill of the Day: Weighted Arm Swings

Speed Drill of the Day: Weighted Arm Swings

Train Like a Pro: Dustin Pedroia's Baseball Power Workout

Train Like a Pro: Dustin Pedroia's Baseball Power Workout

Paul Rabil's Powerful Rotational Strength Workout

Paul Rabil's Powerful Rotational Strength Workout

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

The 4 Best and Worst Cable Machine Exercises

The 4 Best and Worst Cable Machine Exercises

Not Making Bench Press Gains? Try These Strategies

Not Making Bench Press Gains? Try These Strategies

Get Faster to Pitch Harder

Get Faster to Pitch Harder

Train Like a Pro: MLS Soccer Strength Program

Train Like a Pro: MLS Soccer Strength Program

Train Like a Pro: Baseball Strength Workout Program

Train Like a Pro: Baseball Strength Workout Program

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

Build Athletic Strength with the Playground Sandbag Workout

Build Athletic Strength with the Playground Sandbag Workout

Is It Too Soon for Olympic Lifts?

Is It Too Soon for Olympic Lifts?

YardBarker