The Deep Squat
Functionally the ability to squat tells a doctor a lot about an individual’s physical ability. All the physical requirements necessary to complete a full squat are necessary for optimal swing mechanics let alone normal walking and running.
That doesn’t mean that one who can’t squat, can’t swing a golf club anymore than one who can’t squat can’t walk or run. What it does mean, is that if you can’t squat you must compensate physically, compromising optimal body mechanics through the actions of walking and swinging a golf club in a powerful and consistent manner.
“But I experience ankle/knee/hip/back pain when I squat.” Many adults do find it painful to squat; however the ability to squat has nothing to do with age. Unless you have a significant ligament tear or joint replacement, whether you are 8 or 88 you should be able to squat “correctly”. In fact by not addressing your inability to squat you will increase the arthritic changes in your joints and increase your pain as you age, let alone your golf performance.
As stated, what happens during your squat can reveal how you transfer weight and load muscles in your swing. A breakdown in mechanics can be a primary cause of many swing faults including a loss of spine angle, sway or slide, early extension, coming over-the-top, and becoming trapped, to only name a few.
A full squat is defined as the ability to bend down so that your buttocks rest against the back of your achilles tendon while your feet constantly remain flat on the floor during the entire process. Many things can go wrong preventing the process, which I can’t address here, but the most common problem begins with a faulty movement pattern. Additionally not being able to keep your arms vertical with your golf club above your head while you squat tells us about your upper body …. both spine and shoulders.
Many people wrongly start a squat by bending the knees and transferring weight into the toes (image 1). The correct pattern imitates a “seating” pattern (image 2). Begin by arching your pelvis backwards, then dropping your bum towards the ground with your weight in your heels. Frankly … like you would sit on a toilet.
Aside from all the benefits to your golf swing, virtually all health professionals will agree that the “correct” squat is one of the most functional exercises applicable to human health at any age. Start by mastering the movement pattern demonstrated in image 2. If you can’t do it … then there are issues not only in your swing but even in the way you walk the course. There could be many reasons why … pin pointing that reason is one of the keys to not only better golf but less back, hip and knee pain.
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