Forward – Swing Phase
The Forward-Swing Phase involves moving from the Backswing, through the Down-Swing, into the Horizontal-Club position. During this phase, the right-handed golfer starts to uncoil the upper body while beginning to rotate the trunk in a counter-clockwise direction.
The golfer shifts his weight to the left foot, while at the same time his torso, hips, and knees turn synchronously to the left. This uncoiling motion occurs due to the contraction of the abdominal and paraspinal muscles.
The Forward Swing (and the Acceleration Phase) are the stages which create the greatest amount of spinal loading. The force exerted on a golfer’s back during these actions is equivalent to eight times the golfer’s body weight. In contrast, runners only experience a force of three times their body weight, while rowers experience a force of seven times their body weight. This is an interesting finding when one considers that most people think of golf as being a low-impact sport. In fact, due to these forces, low-back pain is the golfers’ most common complaint.
During the Downswing, the golfer's hips normally slide towards the target - causing the lower back to tilt to the right. Too much of this side-bending action can be a major cause of low back pain.
During the Forward-Swing phase:
· The lateral shoulder ligaments (acromioclavicular ligaments) are stretched.
· The shoulder blades (scapulae) are externally rotated.
· The three rotator cuff muscles (subscapularis, infraspinatus, and teres minor) work to stabilize the shoulder joint.
· The back muscles (erector spinae) stabilize the golfer’s posture.
· The oblique abdominal muscles control the rotation and flexion of the torso.
During the Acceleration Phase, the golfer moves from the Horizontal club position to ball contact. During this stage, muscle energy is converted into club head acceleration.
During the downswing, golfers often decelerate their swing just prior to hitting the ball. This deceleration places considerable stress on the common flexor tendon. This is one reason why elbow injuries (Golfer’s Elbow) commonly occur at the point of ball impact. Poor strength and flexibility in the wrist, forearms, and shoulder are other common reasons for elbow injuries.
During the Acceleration Phase of a right-handed golfer, some of the most active muscles are:
· Upper extremity muscles - pectoralis (most active during acceleration phase), latissimus dorsi, trapezius, levator scapula, and rhomboids.
· Core muscles including the left gluteus maximus (acts as a stabilizer at the time of ball impact), external obliques, left internal oblique, and erector spinae.
· Oblique abdominals that are involved in the rotation of the trunk.
It is essential to maintain a balance between the forearm flexors and extensors. This balance allows for a good wrist-cock during the golf swing and acts to protect the hand and wrist during ball impact.
In the next blog we will discuss both the Follow-Through and Late Follow-Through Phases.
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