Do You Really Know What Mobility Is?

The terminology used within the fitness industry can be quite confusing for anyone that isn’t a personal trainer, strength coach, or physical therapist. Words like mobility, stability, and power are thrown around often without a firm definition that coincides. This can make it difficult when trying to weed through the copious amounts of information out there.

Here are some commonly used terms with their definitions, which will help you understand how they differentiate from one another:

Flexibility is defined as the ability of muscles or muscle groups to lengthen passively. An easy way to picture this is to imagine somebody lifting one of your legs to stretch your hamstrings. The person is adding an external resistance to your body that is aiding you into the stretch.

Mobility is the ability of a joint to move through a range of motion.  When comparing this with flexibility, this is the ability of the neuromuscular system moving the joint from point A to point B without any external assistance.

Strength is most often described as the maximum amount of force you can exert against an external force. On the Titleist Performance Institute, strength is described as the capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure.

We all want to develop strength, but how do we know if the work we’re doing in the gym actually is actually carrying over to the golf course? Like golf, our body is subjected to varying amounts of internal and external forces throughout everyday life. The ability to control our body and withstand these forces are essential for joint health and longevity with any physical activities you pursue.

Strength is important when discussing the differences between mobility and flexibility? Why? Mobility and strength go hand-in-hand, and we firmly believe you can’t have one without the other.

Not sold on this concept yet? Here’s a study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

The study compared the results of a 16-week long flexibility and strength training program. The participants trained 3 times weekly, and they tested to see what the impact was on flexibility in women. It was concluded that both the strength and flexibility programs were responsible for improving overall flexibility.

If strength training can help us maintain or improve our flexibility levels, it indicates that mobility is more than passively moving a joint through space. Mobility is a complex training characteristic that is determined not just by our flexibility, but our ability to create stability as well.

Take a look at this strength curve, which shows you the amount of force that can be exerted along the range of motion continuum of a joint.

The graph depicts a phenomenon that happens at every joint in the body. On the far left of the chart, you can see the force capabilities of a joint in it’s fully lengthened position. Notice how the joint significantly weaker than a joint positioned in it’s middle of the range.  

The far right portion of this chart shows the strength of a shortened range of motion joint. Again, you’ll realize how the joint is weaker at a shorter range than it is at mid-range.

This is important because to understand our bodies are most vulnerable to injury near end ranges of motion. This is where training end-ranges of joints will allow us to build both strength and mobility over time.

By strengthening and better controlling our outer ranges of motion, we can make the above bell curve longer. A longer bell curve means that we have access to more range of motion we can control. More controllable range of motion equates to more resilient joints and a decreased likelihood of injury.

How can we improve our personal bell curves? Simple. It all comes down to force application.

If a force acting on the body is greater than the forces the body can produce, injury will occur. If you were hit by a truck, the forces acting on the body would be much higher than the muscles, ligaments, and bones can handle, which is why we tend to see broken bones with this type of injury.

If a force acting on the body is less than or equal to what the body can produce, tissue damage will not occur. A prime example of this would be rolling your ankle playing basketball, but not severe enough where pain and swelling are present afterwards. The forces acting on the joint were not high enough to cause injury, but if it were higher than the tissues capacity, you would have sprained your ankle.

To conclude, if we strengthen end-ranges of motion and increase force production in these ranges, our body will be able to absorb forces in these end-ranges where most individuals are prone to injury due to lack of training experience.

This is what we preach to all of our Online Coaching clients and Virutal Kinstretch members. Our mission is to mitigate injury as much as we possibly can with everybody that works with us. You can’t prevent all injury, it’s impossible to prepare your body for every scenario where injury is possible. However, by consistently training joints in controlled positions where they’re prone to injury in a dynamic environment, we’re improving the likelihood of avoiding injury.

Interested in learning more? Try our Kinstretch classes for just $0.99 for your first two weeks and start changing the way you move today!

Have questions? Drop a line below and we’ll be happy to reach out to you!





How Fitness Can Improve Your Yardage

With every consultation we perform, there’s one thing all golfers want as a result of their training: improved driving distance from the tee box. Longer shots are attractive, there’s no doubt about that. Longer shots lead to shorter lies, which hopefully lead to better scores. 

Most recreational golfers think that training is just to improve overall health. While this is true, you can see dramatic improvements in your performance if you take the right approach to your time in the gym.

If we want to drive the ball further, we need to figure out what might be limiting your distance. Without addressing swing mechanics, here are two factors that might be preventing the extra yardage you’re looking for.

You’re Not Strong Enough

Strength is one of the key foundations to hitting a golf ball longer. If you’re not strong, there’s a good chance you aren’t hitting 300-yard drives down the fairway. Being able to produce force throughout the entire kinetic chain is the determining factor whether or not your yardage improves or not.

Now, you don’t have to be a 600-pound deadlifter to be a good golfer. At some point, there’s a threshold of maximal strength that will carry over into your ability to exert force in the swing. This is why you’ll never see an elite-level powerlifter smoke a ball off the tee.

You’re Not Powerful Enough

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “what’s the difference between being strong and being powerful?”

The words strength and power aren’t synonymous, believe it or not. Strength, in a weight room setting, is your ability to move a certain amount of weight with an exercise. Power is how fast you're able to move the weight at hand. To keep it simple, power is determined by how quickly you can move an external resistance. If you train movements slowly, you can’t expect improvements in velocity with any athletic endeavor.

To take this a step further, you also have to understand that power is plane-specific. There are three planes of movement: sagittal (linear), frontal (lateral), and transverse (rotational). The golf swing occurs in the transverse plane, which means we have to train transverse-focused movements to see carryover.

While sprints, jumps, and Olympic lifts, are great for power development, they’re not necessarily going to improve your golf swing. Similar to the powerlifter comparison before, an Olympic sprinter’s power output isn’t going to translate into a rotational movement. Rotational movements at high velocities will be your best bet if you’re looking for a more powerful swing.

It’s important to be strong and powerful in all three planes of motion, regardless of what sports you play. We don’t suggest you just focus on one plane while neglecting the other two. A healthy balance of all three will help improve your general physical preparation, while just a handful of sport-specific drills will be the icing on the cake for the skill you're trying to improve.

Here’s what a training session might look like for one of our golfers:

A1.) Rotational Medicine Ball Scoop Toss 3x5/side
A2.) Honest Hip CARs 3x3/side

B1.) Trap Bar Deadlift 4x5
B2.) Yoga Push-Up 3x8
B3.) Plank w/ Arm March 3x6/side

C1.) KB Goblet Lateral Lunge 3x8/side
C2.) Wide-Stance Anti-Rotation Cable Chop 3x8/side
C3.) DB 3-Point Row 3x8/side

D1.) DB Farmers Walk 3x40 yards
D2.) Prone Shoulder End-Range Lift-Offs 3x(3x10 seconds)/side

Here's another example of a superset we use regularly with great success.

You’ll notice that the above program has a variety of different movements. As I mentioned earlier, we don’t just focus on rotational movements with our training. Our mission is to get stronger with fundamental movements that coincide with our rotational work. The stronger our movement foundation is, the more opportunities we have to improve power output with our medicine ball training and golf swing.

Interested in taking your golf fitness to the next level? Leave us a message below to get involved with our online coaching program!

Why Every Golfer Needs Better Mobility

When we look at the joint by joint approach to movement, we see that our body alternates between joints that need more stability and mobility. Mobility and stability are necessary for all joints, but certain joint articulations will be more stability-focused, while others are mobility-focused.

Joint by Joint Approach by Mike Boyle and Gray Cook

Joint by Joint Approach by Mike Boyle and Gray Cook

By understanding the joint by joint approach, we’re better able to train our body to maintain optimal function with whatever physical activities we partake in. Think of each joint segment as members of a football team. If the hips are tight and don’t do their job well, a surrounding joint will have to pick up the slack and of the limited joint. Similar to a player on a football team that is working too hard, fatigue kicks in faster and there’s a higher risk of injury as the game goes on.

This is an everyday example of the middle age golfer with tight hips that tries to play pain-free golf on the weekends. The lower back or knees have to work overcome the lack of hip motion to swing a golf club, carry groceries, or any other type of physical exertion. The end result over time? Pain.

Golf is a game of high repetition and high force that’s executed within the same plane of motion with each and every swing. We ask our bodies to rotate at high velocities hundreds of times in an attempt to drive a little white ball as far as we can.

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When our mobility becomes restricted, we ask our body to work harder to do this.  Lack of shoulder, hip, or ankle mobility can all cause increased forces to act on the spine, increasing your risk of injury.

Now, this might not have high implications on tomorrow’s round of golf. When we talk about taking hundreds of swings over the course of the next decade, however, these implications can be detrimental to your daily quality of life. The injury statistics are staggeringly high to backup this point.  8 out of 10 people (not specific to golfers) will suffer a bout of low back pain at some point in their lives. With low back pain being the most prevalent injury in golf, something has to change.

By creating and learning how to control those motions, we can inherently improve our joint health and make our bodies more resilient to the forces we place on it. This can be done through various mobility drills, good massage therapy, and strength training through full ranges of motion. It’s not difficult to improve the way you move, it just takes consistency.

Not sure where to start? Sign up for our newsletter below so you can learn tips and tricks for staying on the course later in life!


 

Three Considerations all Golfers Should Keep in Mind

We come across golfers all the time that don't understand the importance of strength training and how it correlates with their performance on the course. While training by itself won't help you make the Tour, there are some principles we consider when programming for all of our golfers, regardless of skill level. When you start training with intent and a goal in mind, the better off your life and golf game will be down the road.

1.) Rotation in one direction repetitively without addressing the opposite side will lead to irritation or injury over time.

As a human being, you weren’t designed to play the sport of golf. Constant movement variability is important to living a pain-free life full of exploration of different ranges of motion. While we all love golf, unfortunately, the golf swing doesn’t provide a whole lot of variability from stroke to stroke. Yes, you use different clubs and play at different angles depending on the course, but you’re still trying to repeat your mechanics everytime you address the ball.

We recommend that all the golfers we work with perform Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) on a daily basis. CARs are a bodyweight movement that you should perform on a daily basis to help maintain your joint ranges of motion. We also use them as an assessment tool to help you determine where you’re limited with ranges of motion. Once limitations are exposed, we like to use other modalities of the Functional Range Conditioning and Kinstretch systems. However, everything always starts with CARs.

While CARs are a staple in our programming, we also use explosive rotational medicine ball drills to help develop power in the swing. In-season, we tend to focus on implementing more medicine ball throws on your non-dominant side. While this volume won’t equal the amount of swings you take on the course, the goal is to minimize imbalances the swing creates to the best of our ability.

2.) In one way or another, almost every joint of the body is involved in your swing.

You might think of the golf swing as a hip and shoulder movement, but there’s a lot more that really goes into each rep you take. The Titleist Performance Institute assesses all their golfers with a 16 test evaluation. The tests address the pelvis, shoulder, spine, ankle, wrist, neck, and forearm through different mobility and stability protocols. Each of these tests correlate with different swing characteristics that might be present in your swing. While your ankle mobility might not be a major concern for you, it can be the reason your extending early through your downswing. The smallest hinges swing the biggest doors in our minds.

3.) Your training should have a healthy mixture of general physical preparation (GPP) and specific physical preparation (SPP).

GPP movements are the big rocks of all the programs we prescribe to our clientele. Whether you’re a golfer or financial advisor that spends their lives seated, you’re performing some type of push, pull, hinge, squat, and carry exercise in our programming. Dan John introduced us to these fundamental movements to structure a program around years ago and it hasn’t changed since.

If you can’t execute a hip hinge well, you probably can’t perform a rotational medicine ball scoop toss well. This is an example of a GPP drill that goes hand-in-hand with an SPP drill. If you don’t excel at level one, you’re not going to have a great success with more difficult progressions. Being brilliant at the basics is one of our most important mottos for training.

There's much more that goes into our programming than what we've laid out above. Injury history, round frequency, movement capacity, and individualized goals are all things that we keep in mind when tailoring the optimal program.

Interested in working with us? Drop a line below to connect with us and we'll be happy to figure out the best plan of attack for you.

Three Awesome Mobility Drills That Will Make You a Pain-Free Golfer

With spring and nice weather right around the corner here in the Northeast, it's important to start considering how you're preparing for your rounds. Far too often, people reach out to us about the pain they deal with after a day on the greens. It simply doesn't have to be this way.

Below, we've laid out three of our favorites that will help you move and feel better than you have in years. While the drills listed below are great for almost all individuals we work with, we highly recommend conducting an assessment with a credible fitness professional, whether in-person or online. Having a program tailored to yourself after thorough screening of your limitations and goals will always trump any program you find online or in a magazine.

With that being said, here are three drills that will help you focus primarily on your hips and spine.

1. Cat Camel

We are huge fans of Cat Camel because you should be able to control spinal movement in all three planes of motion: sagittal (forward/backward), frontal (side-to-side), and transverse (rotational). We've come to realize that if you can't control spinal movement in the sagittal plane by simply flexing and extending the spine, you probably can't own it when rotating or side bending.

This is why Cat Camel shows up in virtually all of our programming. It's helped us improve our back health and many others we work with as well. Learn how to move the spine into flexion and extension under control, and good things happen.

2. 90/90 Hip Transfers

Like Cat Camel, almost all of our clients execute 90/90 Hip Transfers on a daily basis. We joke around with Kinstretch practice by using the phrase "Every Damn Day". However, if you want healthy joints, you really do need to move them throughout their full range of motion every damn day.

We love 90/90 transfers to compliment our daily Controlled Articular Rotation (CARs) routine because when done properly, both the hips and spine have to work hard against gravity. Voluntary muscular contraction in this position makes it challenging to move the hips slowly while maintaining an upright torso.

The goal should be to keep the two knees as far apart as possible throughout the movement. This makes the transfer much more difficult to execute. We highly recommend using hand support if you have never performed 90/90 transfers before.

3. Honest Hip CARs

Honest Hip CARs make it extremely easy to assess whether or not you compensate true hip mobility with movement at other joints. By "gluing" one leg to the rack, you'll be able to realize how much range of motion you own with the working hip. The feedback makes it easy to ensure that you're not cheating during your rotations as well.

These are three drills we practice daily and prescribe all the time. If you're interested in learning more about our Online Coaching Program or our Virtual Kinstretch Group, check out the links or shoot us an email below.

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Are the Exercises You’re Performing Helping or Hurting You?

Golfers are always looking for the best exercises that will add yards to their drives, improve their posture and increase their shoulder turn. These days it’s not hard to find golf fitness tips in magazines, on the internet and even on the weekly television broadcast.

The question we must ask is whether or not these exercises are right for you?

Many assume that if an exercise they see a Tour player performing, it must be the secret they need towards improving their game. During the US Open, I saw a few videos on social media showing exercises used by some of the players including Justin Thomas and champion Brooks Koepka. I even had clients send me the videos asking for my opinion.

Each and every exercise has it’s place. The most important factor you must understand is whether or not they’re given to the right person for the right reason. Here are some factors I consider when writing workout programs for my clients. You should also use these considerations when trying to improve your overall fitness and golf game as well.

Anytime I start with a new client, there are 3 things I’m going to want to know about.  

  1. What is their injury/medical history?  

  2. How long have they been training consistently?  

  3. What are their goals?  

When choosing exercises for your program, keep in mind your medical history, injuries and surgeries you may have had in the past alongside any pain you may be experiencing now. Certain medical conditions may dictate the frequency, intensity and/or duration for a safe training program. Previous injuries may result in avoiding or modifying certain movements, like spinal loading or overhead pressing, for example. Similarly, pain is a message from the body telling you that it doesn’t feel “safe” in its current environment.  It’s in your best interest to modify painful movements until the body is ready for them again.

Like a well built house, a good workout program is built on a solid foundation.

By the time most players reach the Tour, they have been training consistently for many years. This allows them to safely do advanced variations of a surplus of exercises. If you’re new to fitness, or haven’t been training as consistently as you like, it would be best for you to focus on basics like proper form, breathing, creating tension, and proper separation of the body’s extremities. This will allow you to safely progress to more advanced exercises and result in even more benefit from them when properly prescribed.

Exercises should be a part of your program to improve a specific aspect of your ability to move and perform. Ask yourself, what are your goals?  Do you want to hit the ball farther? Is flexibility at the top of your list? Maybe you want to lose weight and improve your body compsition?

Choose the right exercises to help you move closer to your goals every day. Professional players often have specific goals and choose exercises intelligently in order to reach them. If you’re not sure where to start, I would recommend choosing exercises that help you move well without pain, increase flexibility, strength and power and improve aerobic capacity.

After gathering this background information, the next thing I’ll do is a movement assessment.  There are tons of different assessments out there that help uncover a ton of information. I’m a big fan of the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), and I also like watching clients perform common movements that I would like them to train.

There are several specific movements that I am going to want to train in almost every program I prescribe in order to improve overall golf technique. These movements include squatting, hinging, pushing and pulling, along with the ability to disassociate the upper and lower body, and rotation of the hips and torso.

Once I’ve done a movement assessment, I can determine where to place each and every one of my golfers on my personal exercise continuum. For each movement you train, you should have a series of progressions and regressions to fit each client. In each program, for example, I would like everybody to perform some type of hip-dominant exercise. For some clients that may be a toe touch progression and for others, it may be a single arm kettlebell swing. Professional golfers are some of the best movers in the world and have several hours per day to focus on their training. If you don’t have this luxury, make sure your exercise choices match your ability to move safely and effectively.

Exercise selection should reinforce the good movements players have in their swing or the changes they are trying to make. This is where it becomes extremely important to consult with the player’s instructor. Many traditional exercises train the body primarily in the sagittal (forwards and backwards) plane.  However, what I hear from most teachers that I work with, is that players need a better ability to control lateral movement and produce more rotational movement.  Knowing this, for most clients, I need to program exercises that help them improve outside of the sagittal plane we just mentioned.

Ask yourself, what swing changes are you trying to make? Professional players are often trying to make very specific changes to their swing. Make sure the exercises you choose match the deficiencies you’re addressing within your game.

Most golfers know that they can improve their ability to play by working on their body in the gym.  The best players in the world take their fitness seriously. For me, it’s always fun to see what exercises they perform and the carryover it might have on the course.

Remember, you need to ask yourself whether those exercises are the right fit for your workout program. By answering the questions above and gathering some information, we can make that decision and build a workout program that allows us to play at our absolute best!

Unlocking Your Swing Installment 8: Loss of Posture

Perfection: the action or process of improving something until it is faultless or as faultless as possible. (via Google)

The goal of the playing golf is not to reach perfection, but it is to get as close as possible. The mechanics of our swing only provide half of the equation towards a great golf swing. The other half is determined by the way we move and control our body. If you struggle with either sides of this fence, we can all but guarantee that your swing is far from optimal.

Today, we'd like to discuss the swing characteristic known as loss of posture. In the video below, Joe breaks down the importance behind having adequate upper body mobility to ensure that your posture deviations aren't coming from range of motion restrictions.

Lack of mobility, stability or strength can all lead to the loss of posture in the golf swing. Loss of posture is defined as any significant alteration from the body's original setup angles during the golf swing. If you struggle from inconsistent contact and suffer from tons of block and/or hook shots, your posture is probably altering throughout the swing.

As we mentioned earlier, the mechanics behind your swing could be the culprit behind your issues. If this is the case, we highly recommend seeking out a credible swing coach within the local area. If you lose your posture during your swing, focus on improving the following to help you near perfection in your swing.

  • The ability to touch your toes.
  • Good squat mobility.
  • Good core and hip strength.
  • Good hip and shoulder mobility.

While Joe touched on the upper body exercises we like to use to combat posture restrictions, Frank discusses two drills that he uses to teach proper hip position combined with true upper back rotation. If you can't rotate through your hips and thoracic spine properly, you'll never golf up to your potential until addressing these issues.

Want to learn more about how we prescribe mobility drills and the importance behind each one we use? Sign up for our newsletter and receive your complimentary Virtual Kinstretch Class. Fill out the form below to receive yours When the next batch is delivered!

Unlocking Your Swing Installment 7: Reverse Spine Angle

Reverse spine angle: three words any golf swing or fitness coach dreads hearing.

An excessive amount of backwards and left lateral bending (for a right handed golfer) during the backswing is what we refer to as reverse spine angle. Excessive spinal motion typically places a lot of torsional forces on the spine that we simply can't absorb through our vertebrae. With repetitive motion through the golf swing, this force can lead to back pain and discomfort over time. 

While reverse spine angle causes pain, it also creates difficulty initiating the downswing. A poor club path and lack of lower-half engagement will lead to poor ball contact and decreased power output. These two factors alone could lead to a frustrating day on the course.

Now that we understand what reverse spine angle is, it's time to troubleshoot the causes behind it.

Reverse spine angle occurs when:

  • You don't have the ability to separate your upper body from your lower body.
  • You lack hip internal rotation on the downswing leg.
  • Lack of strength and stability through the core and hips throughout the swing.

These videos demonstrate how to better control your body, which will have great carryover to the swing overtime if you have true movement discrepancies.

The kettlebell arm bar is designed to help improve thoracic spine rotation, upper body dissociation from the lower body, and shoulder stability. All three of these are key to a powerful swing. 

The Technique:

  • Lay on your back. Hold a kettlebell in one arm and bend the same side knee.
  • Drive the leg with the bent knee into the floor to initiate your roll.
  • Keeping your knuckles facing the ceiling, bring that same leg over your body and place it on the ground.
  • Drive the pelvis of your top leg into the floor to maximize thoracic rotation.
  • Hold for 15 seconds and roll back to the start position. 

The ability to reach the top of your backswing because of lack of mobility or stability of the shoulders can cause the reverse spine angle.  The reach, roll, and lift exercise challenges strength, stability, and mobility of the upper extremities.

The Technique:

  • Start in a quadruped position (on hands and knees) and sit back onto your heels.
  • Make a fist with one hand and place your head on it. 
  • Take the other arm and reach out in front of you as far as possible with your palm facing down.  
  • When you can't reach any further, rotate your palm up to the ceiling.  
  • Once your palm faces upward, lift your arm off the floor as high as you can without bending your elbow.
  • Repeat for 5-8 per side.

Learning how to extend the hip without moving the lower back is key towards avoiding reverse spine angle. Prone hip extension off a table is a great way to teach true hip extension. By using a table, as you can see in the video above, you're providing feedback to the torso to ensure that you don't extend the lumbar spine. If you feel your stomach push into the table while moving the leg, you're compensating with lower back motion. Perform these for 8 on each side.

Pallof presses are a great way to develop anti-rotation stability, which will help develop a strong midsection throughout the entire swing. In the video, you could make the exercise more challenging by changing your foot position. The narrower base of support you have, the more difficult the press will be. Perform this for 8 to 12 reps per side each set and make sure you control each rep.

Want to learn more about how we prescribe mobility drills and the importance behind each one we use? Sign up for our newsletter and receive your complimentary Virtual Kinstretch Class. Fill out the form below to receive yours today!