Want to improve your golf swing? Start with your ankles. When I have been on a golf course, I see people placing a club behind their neck and twisting their backs. The thought is to loosen their back before playing. First, the twisting of the back seems weird as every golf pro teaches us to rotate around our spine like an axis. The problem is when we think of rotating our hips, we literally try to rotate our hips. When you rotate the hips, that rotation starts from the knees down to your feet. Twisting the spine will cause back injuries.
Why It Is Not Rotating the Hips
To improve your golf swing, you are told to rotate your hips better. Just rotating the hips puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the hip rotating muscles. Thee are 5 of them and they are small muscles. When these muscles fatigue, spasms will occur. Twisting from the hips causes the muscle of the sides to fatigue and they will spasm. Finally, in the stance with the knees slightly bent, most of your body weight is on the upper quads(front of your thighs) and inner thighs. These muscles can and will spasm due to fatigue. All of this leads to tilting the pelvis forward and increasing the pressure in the lower back. This means your back will feel stiff after sitting for a while, getting out of bed, or just standing for long periods of time. NO back brace will help you
Now on to the ankles.
The rotation of the body during the golf swing comes from the inner thighs, calves, and feet. Without them, you cannot improve your golf swing. The calves have 4 major muscles. The inside and outside calf muscles control the internal and external rotation of the ankle and knee, plus the lateral movement of the foot. Each of these muscles starts above the knee and goes into the arch of your foot.
If you stand barefoot and go through a slow practice swing, focusing on the feeling in the bottom of your feet. You can feel your weight shifting through the foot from inside to out on one and vice versa on the other. This ability to work the muscles in your feet and calves is what gives the ankle the flexibility to increase your range of motion and increase your clubhead speed. As you are going through your swing the inside calf muscle has to be able to release which will allow the outside calf muscle to rotate the hips. The increased range of motion in your ankle increases the lubrication of the ankle joint. This makes your swing easier with less effort, but more importantly, it increases the clubhead speed due to the increased range of motion.
How do you get there?
Calf stretching is a very misunderstood part of the human body. You see some people place their toes on a curb, slant board or step to stretch their calves. Others will lean against the wall with their feet pushed away from the wall to stretch. These can be good for your Achilles Tendon, but they are not calf stretches. Clearly not the inside and the outside calf which is important for golfers. In fact, I would venture to say that 98% of Americans have never stretched their calves properly. You may feel your calves pull with the above stretches, but you are not stretching your calves. For more information go here https://stretchnrelease.com/2020/01/22/the-3-best-stretches-you-need-to-do-every-day/.
Most traditional stretches ar stretching the lower end of the 2 middle calf muscles. As a golfer, this does not help your motion which is about twisting the hips. No one is stretching their inner and outer calf muscles. Some golfers complain of back pain and their calves could be the problem. Short calves will force you to take shorter strides. This can cause mid back pain too.
So how do you stretch your calves? You can sit on the floor with your back against the wall or if you cannot get on the floor, sit in a hard-backed chair with one foot on an ottoman with your leg straight. Place a yoga strap, rope, or anything that is not stretchy around the ball of your foot. Do not use your leg muscles. Only use your arms and gently pull your toes back toward you feeling the stretch from start to finish. You should feel this behind your knee. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times. On each stretch, breathe out and allow your brain time to let go of the muscle tension. See the calf stretch video here https://youtu.be/18VN9rzPbSc.
Soften your Feet
Softening your feet gives you more grip to the ground which will give you a stronger finish on your swing. Place a golf ball on the floor while you are seated. Place the arch of your foot on top of the ball. DO NOT Roll your foot on the ball! Gently press down on the ball feeling for sore spots. When you find one, maintain the pressure so your brain knows where to go, breathe out and allow the muscles to relax. Move on to the next spot until you have covered the whole foot. Do both feet.
While sitting, cross one leg and grab your foot with your hand. Using your thumb gently slide your thumb between the bines on top of your feet starting at the toes and going to the ankle. Work across the whole foot. Gently stretch your toes apart with your hand. these 2 things will soften your feet, giving you more control of your swing.
I work with many golfers each week and it is amazing how many talk about the improvement in the distance of the ball after doing these 2 things. You still have to practice hitting the ball with a pro, but if your feet and legs are not holding you back, your improvement will skyrocket. For more information go herehttps://www.musclerepairshop.com.