This is Part 1 in a series of five articles highlighting the why and how of core development. We’ll explore the core musculature, its role in the golf swing, and provide examples of exercises to develop each aspect.
Anti-Extension – Part 1
Anti-Lateral Flexion – Part 2
Anti-Rotation – Part 3
Rotational Power – Part 4
MIscellaneous Core Approaches - Part 5
Before we discuss today’s topic, anti-extension, let's quickly review the core musculature and its importance.
When most athletes think core training, they think 6-pack. But core training is much more.
Your core is made up of many muscles with various responsibilities. It includes the muscles of the abdomen, hips and posterior chain. Our goal is to train all the muscles of the core to perform their specific functions. The goal is to develop stability or motor control (the ability to move the hips or extremities without compensatory movement of the spine). “During most activities, the primary role of the abdominal muscles is to provide isometric support and limit the degree of rotation of the trunk which…is limited in the lumbar spine. A large percentage of low back problems occur because the abdominal muscles are not maintaining tight control over the rotation between the pelvis and the spine at the L5-S1 segment.” (Sahrmann, Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes, p70).
During your golf swing, the core musculature helps transfer energy from the ground and lower body into the upper body and eventually the club head. Even more importantly, it stabilizes your spine ensuring your lower back isn't put into compromising positions. Remember, in a golf swing, rotation is occurring primarily in the hips and upper back, not the lower back. If the core musculature is weak, it will not be able to absorb the repeated rotational stress, which can lead to lower back pain. Lower back pain is the leading cause of injuries among golfers. A strong core goes a long way to protecting your back while allowing energy in the swing to transfer through the core to get the most distance out of your swing.
Core training should contain each “anti-“ component mentioned above. This keeps the spine balanced in all planes of motion. This article focuses on anti-extension.
When performing anti-extension exercises, the goal is to resist extension at the lumbar spine. Most golfers I test have weak glutes. One main reason is they are sitting all day (i.e. desk job or school). As a result, they are unable to control hip extension, which leads to compensation through the lumbar extension (backwards bending). Hip extension is important in a golf swing because it brings power at impact. Check out Justin Thomas’ hips at impact. He’s gone from a hinged position (image on the left) to an extended position at impact (image 2nd from left). If he were unable to extended properly, the lumbar spine would pick up the slack and pay the price.
Here are exercises to help develop strong anti-extension core musculature. These progress in difficulty. It is important to start with easier exercises and progress when you are ready.
Dead Bugs Progressions
Leg Lowering Progressions
Bird Dog Progressions
Half-Kneeling Vertical Pallof Press