Golf is a sport requiring both mental and physical skill sets. It is both a thinking man’s game and a game of power. This is why the TourCouncil.com Movement and Conditioning Pillar is so important. The performance of movement is tied to development in thinking and learning and efficiency in movement is coupled to the progression of consistency and power.
The first and most important series in our Movement and Conditioning Pillar will be known as the “Fundamental Series”. This series will create a platform / basis for which all future contributions to the Movement and Conditioning Pillar will be founded. In fact, these first installments in the Movement and Conditioning section will likely seem similar to many of the thoughts, ideas and research presented in the junior development pillar of the TourCouncil.com website. Although there will likely be some overlap I believe it is absolutely paramount that golfers, and athletes from all sports for that matter, appreciate the foundation from which all their athletic movements are based on.
As such, the “Fundamental Series” will focus specifically on the movements we develop from the time we are in the womb and into our first years of life. It is these actions that all our physical skill sets are based off of and it is these skill sets that we must return to when our neuromuscular system requires a reset. A reset may be required any time:
- We are interested in beginning an athletic training program
- When we are starting a rehabilitation program post mental or physical injury
- When we just want to improve our physical or mental performance in any area we have become physically stagnant.
We exist in a society that is constantly pushing forward. Newer means better and the older version is not considered as good. We want faster runners, higher jumpers and stronger lifts. We want faster cars, airplanes that fly higher and machines that can lift more. We want our kids to be at a tenth grade math level when they are in eighth grade and we want our kids to be competitive in everything and anything they do.
For many material items this may be a reasonable expectation as the newer system is based on a functional previous version or the newer version is a correction for a flaw in a previous version. For individual human movement however, this expectation is almost exclusively inaccurate and a fundamental flaw in the development of brain and motor function, injury avoidance and athletic excellence. Yes, the end goal is faster, higher, stronger but not at the expense of present or future performance.
As I noted in the previous paragraph we exist in a society looking for the next great thing. However, as a society we are expecting this from a stationary, often seated fetal starting point. The thought process for many of us, if we are truly being honest, is that if we have to leave our computers or television for any more than the minimum allocated amount of time, the task either can’t be worth doing / accomplishing or it must not be the most “effective” way of realizing our goal.
Why spend time developing our Fundamental Skill Sets when I can get the 20 minute workout, 90 days to a new body or 2 minute ab program? You can do these programs quickly and that leaves way more time to watch your television. This way you have more opportunity to watch someone else achieve physical greatness in your favourite sport from the comfort of your own home on your padded reclining chair drinking nutrient lacking but caloric dense liquids!
Why would you want to actually perform your best in any athletic venture you desire? Why would you want to play golf better, hit the ball farther, achieve swing changes quicker and play good golf later into your life? Why? Because that’s what we would have wanted in our lives as a kid dreaming of what we were going to do when we “grew up”.
Note: I said grow “up” and NOT grow “old”!!!
This sentiment is what has created the “Lazy Body” most of us reside within. If you are not motivated to improve your physical ability and play golf or move and think at a higher level, than this pillar is not likely for you. I
However, if you want to maximize your own achievements, both on and off the course, open your mind to a new lease on your physical potential!
This “Lazy Body” has reduced the function of most if not all the primitive motor functions we learned as a developing child. Many of us, and the rate is increasing with each new generation, did not even learn these primitive motor functions effectively as a child due to;
- Rigid or cushioned footwear use during the early phases of walking (Heck, shoes at all!)
- Ambulatory assistance devices (walkers to speed up the development a child’s walking, etc) limiting the time spent crawling or learning to kneel, lunge and squat.
- Sitting too much playing video games, watching television or other “activity”
As I noted above, we live in a society expecting new things to happen at an ever-increasing rate. This includes parents who want their child to be known as the child who walked earliest amongst their friends’ children. They push their child through normal phases of development with no appreciation of the consequences to that child’s learning and future physical development. I hope that after reading the “Fundamental Series” you will have a stronger appreciation of our development and what is required for children, teenagers or adults to perform at our physical and mental best.
So the first and most important question each of us should ask before beginning an athletic performance enhancement program is… do we deserve to be active? Have you earned that right?
Seems like a silly questions but if we are truthful about our answer most of us would agree that we do not. We need to relearn how to move properly. We can not allow ourselves to skip the steps necessary to relearn how to move efficiently so that we can satisfy our egos and do an exercise under load.
So many of us have friends who waste their time putting weight onto a bar to do a bench press or onto a leg press machine but can’t do proper pushups or body weight squats.
It’s an unfortunate consequence of our ego and the egos of those around us believing quantity is more important than quality. This is a fundamental flaw in thinking and has cost so many of us enjoyment in the sports we would love to play due to overuse injury or flaws in our movement. It is the same line of thinking that has separated the arts from the sciences in school. Which is strange because most “scientists prior to the early 20th century would have been considered as much an artist as a scientist. Galileo anyone?
I am sure much of what I am going to illustrate in the “Fundamental Series” will be new to you and require you to step outside of your box for a minute to question the way you have trained your body to this point. I hope you take the time do so. The athletes I spend my professional life helping have taken that plunge and their results have been remarkable, both on and off the field of competition.
The articles in the “Fundamental Series” are not based on new ideas or concepts but rather a new way of appreciating old concepts and long-accepted understandings. The reason so many of us have lost or never attained a mastery of these movements is that we live in a world where quantitative trumps qualitative and these “Fundamental Movements” are difficult to measure with a ruler, a force plate or EMG.
As babies we have extreme motion available to us. It is with this extreme motion that we learn to create stability. Many people would look at an adult with the same amount of available motion as the babies as being hyper mobile and this “excessive” motion would result in injury or performance detriment. The athletic development, rehabilitation and conditioning communities are obsessed with the idea of stability. The most common diagnosis I have heard in my years involved in sports performance and rehabilitation clinics has had something to do with a lack of stability being the cause of someone’s pain or dysfunction. The problem with this diagnosis is not that they have found and isolated an area lacking in stability but rather they have failed to identify why there was a need for the body to lose the stability in that area in the first place.
In almost every case where a problem with stability has been identified there is a restriction in movement acting as the precursor to the loss in stability. We have been forced to lose stability in an area to compensate for a lack of mobility in an associated area of the body and we needed to lose this stability to allow us to continue to perform our daily or athletic activities.
If we think of our own bodies in the following example it may become easier to appreciate this concept.
There is a box sitting on the floor that you must pick up and put onto a table. As a child we would have dropped down into a perfect squat to position ourselves appropriately to grab onto the box. We would then lift our hips up into the air and then drive them forward and underneath us in a dead lift manner to move the box off the ground.
As we get older, we:
- Accumulate athletic injuries that are not corrected properly;
- Develop movement deficits from living a sedentary lifestyle; or
- Have movement deficiencies secondary to inefficient development of the patterns in the first place.
We must compensate with our bodies to do whatever we can to get our hands on the box and then lift it up onto the table. This ineffective pattern of movement is why so many of us can’t squat while playing with our babies or lift more than a couple of boxes at a time. We begin to fatigue because of inappropriate muscle activation and / or inhibition. Additionally, pain is so common after performing this type of activity (most of us are grateful for the presence of pain modification or anti-inflammatory medication in our lives!). We must sacrifice quality of movement for quantity. Again, it is easier to measure the quantity (could you reach the depth needed to grab the box) versus quality (how did you reach the box and what joints and muscles did you utilize to get there).
Golf is a sport where quality of movement will always trump quantity of effort performed to create movement. Once you have the platform of quality you can build the quantity easily and safely!
I would like to provide the opportunity for many of you to leave this world of ineffective movement behind! This is why we are beginning the Movement and Conditioning Pillar with our Fundamental Series and not with more “adult exercise”. Master the Fundamental Series and then move on to the many, many other exercises that will be outlined in this section of the TourCouncil.com website. Like any good book or subject we must initially begin with more detailed information to allow for the formation of a platform that we can then base all future understanding and performance training from.
As I alluded to earlier, not only does movement improve your future capacity to move but it improves your capacity to think. Physical activity improves the communication within the matrix of neural tissue inside the brain by forming new connections and allowing for an increased capacity to learn and think.
A perfect combination for the golf course!
Final Thoughts: The second part of the Fundamental Series will detail the importance of balance and proprioception and giving the mind and body a “second chance’ to develop and improve the movements of early development from which all future movements are founded. The article titled “The Vestibular System: Move to Live and Live to Move’ will be followed by subsequent sections that will be known as “The Reptile Series”, “The Mammal Series”, the “Primate” and “ Human Series”.
Link to take home points:
- Our sedentary lifestyle decreases our Fundamental Movement Patterns and increases the likelihood of injury and decreases our potential for performance enhancement in the gym and on the golf course;
- Pushing our children through the normal development process prevents proper accumulation of the neural networks responsible for effective movement and both physical and mental learning;
- Have we earned the right to be active? Most of us have lost our ability to move efficiently and as such create compensations to get us through a prescribed exercise program or normal activities in our daily lives. We must earn the right to be active before moving into more advanced programming;
- Too often we are focused on an individual’s apparent lack of stability as being the reason for their lack of performance or injury development but more often than not a loss of mobility is the predisposing factor to the observed loss in stability;