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Physiology of Golf: What you don’t know can hurt you!

During video analysis of my client’s golf swing, I identify 12 common golf swing faults. The most common of the golf swing faults are due to a weakness or inefficient use of the core muscles of the trunk. This situation can contribute to a golf swing that is less powerful and inaccurate, but it can also lead to injury, especially to the low back. I always educate my clients about the core trunk muscles, so when I teach them stance, how to weight shift and sequencing of the golf swing, they have a clear understanding of what muscles they overuse and what muscles will maximize their swing.


There are 2 major muscle groups that support trunk movement. The Iliopsoas muscle consists of 2 muscles- the Psoas Major and the Iliacus. The Abdominal muscles consists of 4 muscles- the Rectus Abdoministhis is the muscle that forms the “six pack”, the External Oblique, the Internal Oblique and the Transverse Abdominis. (See Fig.1). Understanding where these muscles are located and their function is very important in preventing injury.


The Psoas Major attaches to each of the Lumbar vertebrae, crosses through the pelvis where is joins with the Iliacus and then exits the pelvis and attaches to the inside of the femur. Because the Psoas Major attaches to the vertebrae, when it is tight and shortened, it pulls on the lumbar vertebrae causing compression of the disc and of the nerves that exit between the vertebrae. It can also cause compression of the hip joint and contribute to hip degeneration and it’s attachment to the groin area of the upper thigh is a common cause of groin pull injuries. The 2 Iliopsoas can also be asymmetrical, pulling and causing back and leg pain more on one side than the other. This is very common in golfers.


The Abdominal Muscles are attached to the pubic bone and ribs in the front of the trunk. If you look at the angles of the Abdominal muscles, you will see how well suited they are for the golf swing. Unfortunately, if the Iliopsoas muscles are tight and shortened (from standing in poor posture with your upper body leaning back or from sitting slumped at a computer all day and in front of the TV at night), they cause the lower abdominal muscles to go into slack and to not be able to work during the golf swing. (See Fig. 2) It is important then, to strengthen the Abdominal muscles and stretch and then strengthen the Iliopsoas muscles. Developing good core posture and modifying the ergonomic set-up of your office, car and home to support the core strength is essential to maintaining your new alignment. When the Abdominal muscles are engaged in tone and length, they maintain the tone and length of the Iliopsoas, creating a powerful muscular balance of all the trunk muscles and contributing to a powerful, accurate golf swing.


The Sierra Golfer • February 2009 | 13  www.sierragolfer.com

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