Fitness Friday: It's time to hit below the belt
*Editor's note: Every week my colleague Ron Kaspriske, Golf Digest Fitness Editor, presents Fitness Friday on the Instruction Blog. He gives you a health and fitness tip or an exercise or stretch to get your body warmed up for the weekend. This week he explains why you need flexible hips and strong gluteal muscles in order to swing the correctly. Look for Saturday Morning Tip tomorrow, and remember to follow me on Twitter: @RogerSchiffman *
Here's Ron: Without strong glutes and good internal and external mobility in the hips, it's nearly impossible to make a good golf swing and hit the ball solidly. And, if by some miracle, you can hit good shots, sooner or later you're going to end up with lower-back pain as a result of your lumbar spine twisting past it's natural allowances.
Think of the glutes (the maximus, medius and minimus) as a car's engine and the hips as its axle and wheels The glutes propel the car, while the hips steer it. turns. A crude analogy, perhaps, but the point is each one needs the other to move your body around. In the golf swing, strong glutes and good range of mobility in the hips enable you to not only maintain your posture (no more fat or thin shots) but also rotate your body (no more lunging in front of the ball and slicing it).
"The gluteus maximus creates hip extension," said PGA Tour fitness trainer Craig Davies. "If the glutes are not doing their job, you get back extension. And back extension results in the rising of the upper body during the downswing as well as a lateral slide -- instead of a rotation -- of the hips. I don't know any good player who can swing the club this way."
To see demonstrations of two exercises to help improve strength and flexibility in the hips and glutes, click on the video below.
*-- Ron Kaspriske