Tips from the Pros: The Most Important Muscle in Golf

September 14, 2018

Below, The Fit Golfer Girl shares her tips for keeping the most important muscle in golf healthy, but if you're looking for even more ways to stay fit, check out our Spa & Wellness Month offers for yoga classes, fitness crawls and more.

With Spa & Wellness Month coming up in October, we're focused on getting into a healthy mindset, even with our golf game – after all, The Palm Beaches are home to more than 160 courses

Back in 2015, after withdrawing from the Farmers Insurance Open, Tiger Woods gave an interview that changed golf forever. On national TV, Tiger blamed his inability to activate his glutes for the crippling back pain that forced him to stop playing.

 
This comment turned him into the butt of everyone’s jokes; however, Tiger was right. The glutes are the most important muscle in golf, and if yours are not properly activated you will lose distance and power, and put yourself at risk of injury.
 

The Most Important Muscle in Golf

 
The glutes are the largest and most powerful muscles in the human body. They are considered to be part of “the core,” and one of their main functions is to help us stabilize and protect our spine during daily life movements—such as the golf swing. Without strong, active glutes, our spine is at risk of being put under excessive stress, leading to pain and eventually injury. Additionally, without strong glutes it’s almost impossible for us to recruit our lower bodies during the downswing. This will result in a loss of swing speed and an inefficient golf swing sequence in which the upper body leads, wasting the energy and potential power that the lower body could bring into the mix. 
 

Why It Happens

 
Having weak glutes is more common than you think. In fact, around 90% of the golfers that come see me for help have this issue. Why are so many golfers currently dealing with weak glutes? The answer will surprise you—and hopefully get you off your butt (literally). Most of us are aware of the negative side effects of sitting for long periods of time. One of these side effects is the shortening and tightening of the muscles in front of the hip (also known as the hip flexors). As a direct result, the glutes, which are located directly behind this muscle on the opposite side of the body, become lengthened and weak. If you are someone who sits for hours at a time, you need to be doing something to undo the damage that this position does to your body; otherwise, you are setting yourself up for an inefficient golf swing and the potential for lots of pain.
 

How to Fix It

 
The following exercises will help you regain control of the glutes. You can do these every day, always focusing on feeling the movement in the correct place. 

Hip Flexor Stretch

Hip flexor stretchHip flexor stretch
First things first. Let’s stretch out the muscles inhibiting your glutes from working to their maximum potential.
  1. Get into a half-kneeling position like shown.
  2. Tuck your tailbone into your spine. You should begin to feel a stretch in the front of the hip of the back leg.
  3. To intensify the stretch, bring your hips forward. 
Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.

Deer in the Headlights

Deer in the headlights glutes exercise
This is my favorite drill to re-establish the connection between your brain and your glutes. This one takes time to master, so be patient and focus.
  1. Lie on your back with your legs straight and place your hands palm up under your butt. 
  2. While in this position, try to contract only one of your glutes without the other one kicking in to help. Use your hands to make sure you are contracting the right muscle.
  3. Repeat on the opposite side. 
Perform 3 sets of 10-20 contractions per side.

Glute Bridges

Glute bridge exerciseGlute bridge exercise
My favorite exercise of all times! Glute bridges are great to activate and strengthen the glutes.
  1. Lie on you back and bend your knees, like shown. 
  2. Push your feet hard against the ground and elevate your hips. 
  3. At the top of the movement, tuck your tailbone in and squeeze your glutes. Make sure you feel your glutes doing most of the work during this movement.
Perform 3 sets of 12-20 repetitions.
 
Keep in mind that depending on your fitness level, these exercises will take patience and time to master. You should not feel any discomfort or pain in your lower back while performing these moves.
 
Now get your glutes to work and start playing the best golf of your life.
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Carolina Romero
Carolina Romero
Carolina Romero, the Fit Golfer Girl, is a former NCAA Division I golfer and TPI Certified golf fitness coach who specializes in helping clients take their golf games and health to the next level.