Mobility; Moving in the Right Direction featuring Fitness Professional Meg Matthews and Abendroth Golf's founder, Emily Farrell
One of the reasons I founded Abendroth Golf was to create a greater sense of community for women in golf. As a PGA Teaching Professional, I have had many conversations with my female students about the lack of resources women have access to for information on what to wear, how to improve or who to connect with in the game. And, if there is, it’s a “IYKYK” kind of environment.
Abendroth is dedicated to deepening the sense of community for women in the game. We want to focus on providing tools that make you a better version of yourself (on and off the course).
With all those things in mind, we are beyond excited to partner with super mom and talented fitness Professional, Meg Matthews in our first ever Fitness Feature. Meg is the Director of Fitness at The Country Club in Boston, MA. She has over 15 years of experience as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach along with being a TPI Professional. Meg has worked with athletes of all ages, abilities and sport interests and has a passion for helping people achieve success both within their sport and their wellness journey.
We are kicking off our first Fitness Feature with a focus on mobility. Being mobile is a crucial aspect of being healthy. It is defined as a person’s ability to move a joint (think ankle, hip, shoulder, etc) freely through its full range of motion. If the joint cannot move fully through its complete range of motion, the joint will become limited.
Let's take a look at the “Fitness Pyramid” which is a great visual of how valuable mobility is and how it really is important to build a secure base first.
If we don’t begin with mobility, then there is an increased risk of injury even before we attempt to pick up a weight and load that range of motion. Mobility isn’t just important for your golf swing. It’s important for everybody (and every body) who needs to move!
For those golfers, lack of mobility can result in a less efficient golf swing, less power, which in turn results in less distance. As a PGA Professional, I see lack of mobility frequently. And, I’m even guilty of it too! One of the most common denominators I see is poor hip mobility. Without hip mobility, it becomes extremely difficult for golfers to disassociate their lower body from their upper body (think correct hip turn) which ultimately provides the power in the golf swing. Additionally, without proper hip mobility, you will lose the support and stability you need to protect your lower back as you turn (or pivot) in your golf swing. This is just one instance (of many) that references potential injuries that can arise if we are not taking care of our bodies! While yes, we all want to hit it a few yards further, it’s important first to be able to protect our bodies so we can keep playing golf into our later years, but even more, be able to protect our bodies for a healthier lifestyle.
Incorporating the following exercises into your workout, pre-round warm-up routine or at various points throughout the day will help increase your mobility in your golf swing and give you the fundamentals to protect your body for everyday life.
- Open Book
- How it helps: If you’re someone who’s sitting at a desk working all day, this will be a great stretch to loosen up your shoulders and upper back. This translates to the golf swing by increasing rotation and extension in your upper back.
- How it works: Lay on your side, bend your knees so that you’ve created an L shape with your legs. Ankles, knees, hips and shoulders should all be stacked on top of each other. From this position, Lift your top arm (if you’re on your right side, lift your left arm) and rotate your upper body so your arm opens up (like a book) and reaches towards the opposite side you are laying on. Make sure to keep your feet and knees together and your bottom shoulder on the floor. Perform 8-10 reps on each side.
- Spider with Reach
- How it helps: improves both upper back and hip mobility.
- How it works: Begin in a push up position, bring your left foot to the outside of your left hand so your foot is flat on the ground. Keeping your hands on the inside of your foot and your hips low. Raise your left hand towards the ceiling and turn to look at your hand. Squeeze your shoulders blades together and hold for three seconds. Perform five repetitions on each arm with the left leg forward. Switch legs and repeat five times with the right leg forward.
- Thoracic Wall Slides
- How it helps: improves upper back mobility.
- How it works: Stand facing a wall with your toes about two inches from the wall. Place forearms on the wall with fingers pointed up and elbows pointed down. Without pushing yourself away from the wall, squeeze your shoulder blades together and move your forearms up the wall until your arms are fully extended. Lift your arms off the wall while squeezing your shoulder blades even further and then return your arms (still extended) to the wall. Slide arms back down the wall following the same pattern as you did to raise them. Repeat 8 – 10 times.
- Kneeling Soleus
- How it helps: improves hip and ankle mobility.
- How it works: Put yourself in a half kneeling position and then bring one leg out to your side keeping your heel in line with your opposite knee. Keep your hips and shoulders facing forward and rock to the side where your foot is pointing. Do not allow your heel to come off the ground. Keep your hand on the inside knee to make sure that the knee does not fall inward. Repeat 8-10 times on each side.
- Kneeling Knee to Pole
- How it helps: improves ankle mobility.
- How it works: Begin in a kneeling lunge position with one knee on the ground and with your other foot approximately 5” from the wall. Drive your knee to the wall and try to touch the wall while keeping your front foot flat on the ground. Repeat 10 times on each ankle.
Now that you’ve warmed up your body a bit and your blood is flowing, here are a few more golf specific drills you can add to your workout routine, pre-round warm-up or five minute stretch in between other activities you have going on throughout your day. These are easy enough to do at the driving range, in a simulator or the locker room.
- Palm Up Club Lifts
- How it helps: this is a great stretch for your shoulders and upper back muscles.
- How it works: Hold your 5-iron (or a dowel/broom handle) with your hands shoulder width apart with your palms facing up. Extend your arms out in front of you and try to “push” the club away from your body. Raise your arms up over your head while continuing to push the club away from you through the entire range of motion. Perform for 30 seconds.
- How it helps: great for loosening up the upper back and helps stabilize posture.
- How it works: Place your golf club (or dowel/broom handle) behind your head and directly across your shoulders. Please do not place it on the back of your neck. Hold both ends of the club so your arms and body form a “W.” Get into your golf posture (with the club still behind your shoulders) and turn your shoulders back and forth while keeping your lower body stable. Perform for 30 seconds.
- Front Leg Swings
- How it helps: increases hip mobility.
- How it works: In a standing position and using your club or dowel for support, slowly swing your leg forward and backward several times increasing the range of motion of your hip as you go. Keep your upper body stable. Perform for approximately 30 seconds on each leg.
- Figure 4 Stretch
- How it helps: increases hip mobility.
- How it works: While standing, bring your leg up and bend your knee while grabbing the left lower leg and the left knee. Pull your leg up towards your chest. Repeat with your right leg. Make sure to maintain an upright position with your chest and a tight core. Repeat on both legs alternating from side to side.
- Split Stance Lunge Turns
- How it helps: a great movement prep exercise to incorporate into your pre-round routine.
- How it works: Get into a lunge position with your right leg forward and your left leg behind you, do not let your back knee touch the ground. Keeping your legs in place, put your hands on each end of the golf club or dowel and fully extend your arms out in front of you. Turn to your right side and then return to center (do not turn left). Repeat 5 times. Switch legs and bring your left leg forward with your right leg behind. Assume the same arm position and turn your body to the left, then return to center (always turn towards the forward leg side). Repeat 5 times. Make sure to keep your lower body stable while your upper body rotates around it.
Improving your mobility is an important step in your fitness journey and many people underestimate the difference a freely mobile joint can make in your day-to-day activities. Performing the above movements multiple times per week will help create a solid foundation for the rest of your training.
Rose, G., & Phillips, D. (2018) TPI Level 1 - The Body Swing Connection Online Course. Retrieved from www.mytpi.com.
Rose, G., & Phillips, D. 2021 Titleist Performance Institute Drill and Exercise Library. Retrieved from www.mytpi.com.