by Matt on October 15, 2015

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golf swing flexibilityTurn on any golf broadcast or read any golf tips and you’re likely to learn about trunk rotation, posture, set up, grip, wrist motion or stance to improve your golf swing.  While these aspects of the golf swing are important to improve your score there’s a commonly neglected part of the body that can impact your golf score.  Ankle flexibility is the long lost culprit of poor golf shots.

 

Many golfers who miss  key shots fail to realize that their issue is with ankle mobility.  One of the golf swing faults that can develop from a lack of ankle mobility is what’s termed “early extension”.  The result is standing up or extending out of the golf posture and the hips actually encroach on the ball.  This causes the golfer to feel stuck or trapped with their arms as they come through their downswing.  The lower body has moved into the area where the hands need to go.  The most common result of this is shanking the ball.  The problem is most golfers never realize the culprit is ankle mobility.

Here’s a simple test you can do to see if you early extend on the downswing.  Place a plastic lawn chair behind you just close enough so your rear end

lightly touches the chair.  Swing the golf club and see if your rear end stays in contact with the chair throughout the swing.  If not, your lower body is moving forward toward the ball which is a classic early extension.

Now is time to find out if your ankle mobility is the culprit.  We call this test the half-kneeling dorsiflexion test.

Kneel on one leg with the opposite foot in front on the floor.  The distance between your back knee and front heel should not be more than 10 inches.  Next, hold a club on the ground about 5 inches from your front foot.  This is about the length of your fist.  Lunge forward onto the front foot.  The goal is to touch the  golf club with your knee without your ankle lifting off the ground.  Try both sides to determine your ankle flexibility.

How did you do?

If you failed this test, the most common culprit is the soleus muscle.  Our calf muscle is made up of 2 muscles: the gastrocnemius and soleus.  The gastroc attaches just above the knee and the soleus attaches just below the knee.  When our knee is bent we put the gastroc on slack.  So, in our test above, when our knee is bent we are specifically testing our soleus flexibility.

Here is my favorite stretch that can be performed with a golf cart or using your car door before you head to the first tee.

The goal is to lunge onto front foot while keeping back knee bent.  Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat three times.

Soleus stretch.  Similar to the runners stretch but notice how the back knee is bent.

Soleus stretch. Similar to the runners stretch but notice how the back knee is bent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As always at the Laporte Golf Fit Institute we want to help you understand that the latest and greatest golf club is not the answer.  Before you spend loads of money on new equipment we’ll show you how to improve your fitness for improvements in your golf score.

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