Common Swing Faults With Physical Fixes
NOT ALL MUSCLES WERE CREATED THE SAME
by Paul Chek
Static or dynamic postural stability problems
All the above are reasons why a player's swing faults are hard to improve
long term. Aside from blatant lack of skill, muscle imbalance is by far
the most common source of altered neuromechanics and both poor and/or
inconsistent swing mechanics.
Teaching pros need to be able to identify and correct length-tension
relationships. Length-tension relationships (the balance between muscles
and groups of muscles) represent and dictate both the real-time function
of the working joints and how well the body executes the brain.s swing
command. In the presence of muscle length-tension imbalances, what may be
a very good motor engram leaving the brain often manifests as a swing with
A player with muscle imbalance is most easily identified by his/her poor
posture. Altered spinal curvatures disrupt spinal mechanics, leading to
compensatory movement at other joints.
When the player.s muscle balance and postural alignment are optimal, there
is minimal engram (motor command sequence) disruption. In this state, good
motor programming results in long term correction of swing faults and
minimizes chances of orthopedic injury.
One of the main reasons for muscle imbalance is the way our muscles are
designed. We have muscles that are classified as TONIC and muscles that
are classified as PHASIC. The physiological reality of how these two
muscle types react to both physical and mental stress is what underlies
many chronic swing faults that persist despite having spent large sums of
money on elite coaching and high-tech clubs!
Tonic muscles are ideally suited to postural duties such as holding an
address posture and an optimal swing axis. Tonic muscles react to aberrant
physical or mental stress by shortening and tightening.
Phasic muscles are more suited to dynamic movements such as actually
swinging and accelerating the club. Phasic muscles react to aberrant
physical or mental stress by lengthening and weakening.
One of the key reasons for the difference responses between the muscle
types is the threshold of stimulation; tonic muscles have a low threshold
of stimulation, while phasic muscles have a high threshold of stimulation
Additionally, as we age (beyond 40) our phasic abdominal and gluteal
(butt) muscles tend to weaken, further encouraging muscle imbalance.
Experienced golfers often have a very good mental image, or consciousness
of the ideal swing, and try with all intent to execute one. Because tonic
muscles have a lower threshold of stimulation than phasic muscles and tend
to override commands to antagonistic and synergistic phasic muscles, which
have a high threshold of stimulation, the physical image or expression of
the motor command may not represent the mental image used to generate the
movement. Here the tonic lumbar erectors and hip flexors override the
phasic abdominal and gluteal musculature, pulling the player into an
over-swing; not only does the player frequently not realize he/she is
doing this, back pain is a common byproduct.
Note that muscle imbalance is most easily identified as poor posture (the
key is recognizing what is poor posture versus good posture!). When a
player develops any degree of muscle imbalance, the swing motor engram
that leaves the player.s brain is altered in proportion to the degree of
facilitation and muscle imbalance that exists in the musculoskeletal
system. Additionally, each time a player executes a swing in the presence
of muscle imbalance, the engram is progressively altered and the muscle
imbalance is further facilitated. This is one reason that golfers play for
five or even ten years with minimal improvement in their handicap; even
though their understanding of the game is improving, their level of
neuromechanical imbalance is of greater influence on their game!
THERE IS A SOLUTION!
You can make significant gains toward a better swing by simply stretching
the shortened tonic muscles just before you play.