Musculosketal Anatomy & The Golf Swing.

Musculoskeletal Anatomy and the Golf Swing, by Kiran Kanwar.

People often ask, “Anatomy? biomechanics? What do they have to do with the golf swing?”.

To which my response is, “Nothing – just as an understanding of nutrition, exercise and even biochemistry is not useful for people with diabetes”.

So, for those who would like to know more about the relationship between musculoskeletal anatomy and the golf swing, here it is, very simply stated so anyone can follow along: A collection of bones (the white part that’s left over after you eat a chicken drumstick) makes up the ske

Anterior  and Posterior Views of Muscles (Thanks  to wikipedia)

Anterior and Posterior Views of Muscles (Thanks to wikipedia)

leton, which can be axial (skull, spine, sternum/breast bone and ribs) or appendicular (arms, legs).

The place where two bones meet is a joint. The main joints of the body (for the purpose of the golf swing) are the spine (which can be further divided into three parts – cervical or neck region, thoracic or chest region and lumbar or hip region); the shoulder, elbow, forearm and wrist; and the hip, knee, ankle.

Muscles (the part of the chicken drumstick you DO eat) cover the bones and are positioned on either sides of each joint, in order to move the bones. All movement of bones takes place at the joints. For instance, the fore-arm moves with respect to the upper-arm at the elbow.

All (human) joints are designed to move in specific directions only, for a total of upto three directions. For instance the elbow can bend and straighten in front of the body only (in what is known as the ‘sagittal’ plane). The shoulder and hip joints, on the other hand, can move front-to-back, side-to-side and with rotation.

Most joints (at least the ones we use for golf) have some ‘play’ in them, allowing them to move – slightly – in other (side-to-side, in the case of the elbow) directions too.

However, the body really does not want the joints to move in any directions but their primary ones, and so puts in ‘controlling tissue’ to support the joint if by any chance you do move it into positions it should not be getting into. These controls are called ‘ligaments’. Ligaments have some elasticity, but can fray if over-stretched – after all their role is to help prevent motion in non-desirable directions.

Yawn, yawn. Let’s get to the golf swing now. OK, OK, almost done with the anatomy lesson!

Now that we know what joints are, and that they cannot do just anything we ask them to, let’s continue with YOUR swing. How do I know what your swing looks like? Simply because all golf swings are, to a great extent, intuitive, and have not changed substantially from what the shepherds in the fields of Scotland used (sadly, but that’s a topic for another day!)

To listen to a golf fitness person, one would imagine that simply by strengthening the weak/inhibited muscles and stretching the tight ones, one can improve both joint STABility and MOBility as required. While that is true, what about joint CAPAbility?

As we discussed above, each joint is only capable of certain directions of movement. So, merely improving its range of motion or restricting it, as the case may be, does not help us with the main role the golf swing should have – that of placing each joint so that it acts only in  the planes of motion it is designed to, not improving its ability in directions it truly should not be in, in the first place.

An in-depth understanding of each of the joints mentioned above, and their design-constraints can help a serious golfer understand where never to place certain joints, and which positions will allow for more ease of swinging and the reduction of injury potential.

* If you have specific joint-positioning-reated questions based on improving ball-striking efficiency or reducing the scope for injury, please post them here.

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