Tip #13: Mobility Versus Stability

The most important aspect of any functional movement is the principle of being in balance. Balance, as we think of it in the golfing world, is the fine line that exists between mobility and stability in your stance and swing.

If you have too much flexibility, or flexibility that you are unable to control during the functional part of the golf swing, it no longer works as an asset. On the opposite side, if you are tight-jointed and stable but don't have enough mobility to produce a functional golf swing, you are unable to preload the muscle, resulting in lack of power.

That is why the golf swing requires a good balance between mobility and stability. According to Gray Cook, an orthopedic physical therapy specialist, "Stability is the active muscular control exerted on a joint to redirect force and controlled movement in the presence of normal muscular flexibility and joint mobility."

Many questions regarding the effectiveness of stretching in creating this balance between mobility and stability present themselves. How long should the stretch be held? How long does it take to achieve an increase inflexibility? What is the residual effect of increased flexibility after you have stopped stretching? Other questions concern how frequently to stretch and the most effective time to stretch.

The answers to all these questions have a component of individual preference. You'll attain the best results, however, by using a combinationof different flexibility activities. This will ensure more comprehensive flexibility and reduce the boredom factor so that stretching will not be the most neglected fitness component in your exercise regime.

In recent years specialized flexibility equipment has beendeveloped. A study of 40 golfers compared changes in joint flexibility andclub head speed when stretching statically and when using specificallydesigned flexibility equipment.

Several stretching devices are on the market that allow athletes topassively place and hold the body in a stretching position; the BackSystem3, Precor Stretch Trainer, StretchMate, and Prostretch are just afew.

The static stretching group improved their relative flexibility and increased their club head speed by 120 percent. The group that used specialized stretching equipment did not improve their relative flexibility but increased their club head speed by 170 percent.

From this study we conclude that being stabilized at the hips on th especialized stretching equipment may decrease muscle stiffness, as opposed to increasing relative flexibility.

This finding has important implications with respect to power production. Improvements in general flexibility apparently might not be asuseful as specifically stretching the part of the muscle chain that istightest. This result also indicates that it might be necessary to swing within the functional framework of your body. The piece of stretching equipment called the BackSystem3 was used in the study.

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