Movement is not something that we should take lightly. It is how we experience our world, how we cook, reproduce, maintain and improve our health, and many other important necessities of life. But practicing movement is not something that we do often. In golf performance we usually think of this as getting to the gym to do some cardio or even if we are motivated, move some weight. But are we exercising or are we practicing?
Practicing implies that what we are doing is deliberate, and goal oriented. Exercising seems so random. It sounds like going to the gym without a plan and then forgetting about movement the rest of the day. Daily movement practice occurs at home, in the gym, and in the office. It involves making a plan and sticking to it. It means knowing what needs to be worked on and what to do about it.
As humans, we do not move as much as we once did. Just a generation ago most jobs included some form of manual labor, and if for some reason this was not the case, what we did for recreation or maintaining our homes and lives did. Sedentary is the new normal, but the solution to sitting or even standing at our desks and in our cars, and on our couches has been to go to the gym maybe 3-5 times a week at best for like an hour. This just doesn't cut it. It does not allow us to work our best on the golf course.
Daily movement practice involves giving your body constant input so changes can be made towards a desired outcome. Is that outcome to move your best when you play golf? Is it to help reduce the pain from an ongoing injury? Is it to get stronger so you can fatigue less during your rounds? Whatever your goal is, daily movement practice can help. If you have been sitting for extended periods of time, what can you do to open your hips up and mobilize your thoracic spine so your turn into your backswing doesn’t deteriorate? All it takes is 20 minutes of being sedentary for your joints, ligaments, and tendons to start physiologically stiffening up, ultimately limiting your movement and changing your movement quality.
Think of how many 20 minute periods of being sedentary you go through in every day. In the car, at your desk, on the couch, etc. All of this can be broken up with daily movement practice. If you are nursing an injury and you have been given some stretches and exercises to do throughout the day, do them. Break up that sitting time with one of the exercises you have been given. It doesn’t need to be complicated, or even get you sweaty.
But why does it need to be daily and frequent? The body changes with constant input. This is called the SAID Principle. SAID stands for specific adaptations to imposed demands. Basically, the body will adapt to the stimuli you give it most. This is how things like flexibility, strength, and mobility are changed. If we are always sedentary, the body will adapt to this by allowing your hip flexors to shorten, your thoracic spine to become rigid, and the muscles in the back of your neck to shorten and tighten. But, if every day, you work on your specific movement goals, you can fight these negative effects and replace them with positive effects, so you can play more, better, and less painful golf.
As well as training purposefully at the gym throughout your week, each day is an opportunity to practice shoulder, spine, hip, and ankle mobility, or upper and lower body flexibility. As mentioned above, even if you are experiencing an injury, sneaking in your rehab exercises throughout your day is a much better use of your time and is much easier to do than setting aside a 30-60 minute chunk of your day on top of working out (yes, you should still be training even if you have an injury). If you know you have a stiff mid-back, then your daily movement practice should focus on improving this stiffness. If your hips and low back get tight, then going through some stretches throughout your day will help ease this tension and pain. You are purposefully introducing more movement with the intention of improving your body and as a result you will move and feel better on the course.
Below are some easy exercises to sneak in throughout your day to add more movement. These exercises are ones that almost any golfer will benefit from. These exercises and more can be found in The Daily Habit. TDH is sent directly to your inbox for free every Monday morning, and consists of 3-5 exercises for golfers to improve the way they move, provide a high quality dynamic warm up prior to playing, and introduce more movement into your day.
Cats and Dogs - 10 reps
- Start with your hands and knees and toes on the ground (quadruped).
- Your hands should be under your shoulders, knees under your hips, and toes tucked.
- Bury your chin into your chest, tuck your pelvis into your rib cage, and round your spine up to the ceiling.
- Reverse the movement. Arch your back as if you are trying to touch your head to your tailbone.
- Smoothly transition back and forth between these two positions for the specified reps.
Pull n Turn - 5 reps each side
- Start in the half kneeling position. One knee down, one knee forward so you have 90degree angles in your ankles, knees, and hips.
- If your right knee is forward you will place your left hand on your right knee and your right hand on your lower back.
- Turn to the right while engaging the muscles in the back of your armpit. As your do this use your left hand to hold your right knee in place. It will give you something to turn against.
- Return to center and repeat for the specified number of reps.
Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch - 1 minute each side
- Kneel down on your right knee with your left foot in front.
- Place your hands on your left knee
- Squeeze your right glute and tilt your pelvis up into your ribs
- Push your hips forward while maintaining an upright torso
Squats - 12 reps
- Stand with your feet hip to shoulder width apart
- Turn your feet slightly out
- Cross your arms in front of your chest
- Squat down so your hips get at or below your knees
- Keep your spine straight
- Press through your feet and completely stand up
Iron Curtsy (Standing HS/Calf str) - 7 reps of 3 second holds per side
- Start standing feet together.
- Step your right foot straight ahead, so it is one foot length past your left foot but still inline with your right hip.
- Place your hands on your hips.
- Keep your right knee straight, heel on the ground, toes in the air.
- Sit your tail back and bend your left knee so you are making a “curtsy”.
- Sit back until you feel a stretch in your right calf and hamstring, you may not need to go very far.
- Keep your hips square facing forward and make sure your spine is staying straight so you are not rounding your lower back.
- Do the prescribed sets and reps and repeat on the other side.