October 2010

November 2010: TIPS FROM A GOLF PRO - Exercising And Golf, Part 2: Neuromuscular Integration Exercises

Author: Pete Popovich | Photographer: Photography by Anne

In last month’s article, we discussed neuromuscular isolation. Now that you have spent four weeks re-establishing communication between your nervous system and muscles, you are ready to progress to the next step of golf core training, which is neuromuscular integration.

Neuromuscular integration exercises are a bit more complex than neuromuscular isolation exercises. The isolation exercises allowed you to have a base movement skill from which your brain could draw information as you progressed, allowing you to have better posture and a better swing. While performing neuromuscular integration exercises, you will have to stabilize and move parts of your body at the same time.

These exercises should also be performed for a minimum of four weeks to allow your brain and muscles enough time to learn the process. Once again, there are three programs to follow, depending upon how much time you can devote to your workouts:

Program 1. If you have only a few minutes a day, perform one of the following exercises each day of the week.

Program 2. Perform two of these exercises three days a week with a day of rest in between; i.e. Monday/Wednesday/Friday.

Program 3. If you have the time, do three of these exercises on days one & three and the three remaining exercises on days two & four.

Lie on your back and place your feet on the ball with your arms to your sides and palms facing up. Raise your hips into the air, to a count of three, until your ankles, knees and hips are all in alignment. Hold this position for three seconds then lower, to a count of three, to the starting position. Do 8-10 reps and up to three sets with one minute of rest between sets.

This exercise gets the major muscle groups to work together. While kneeling, assume a prayer position with your hands, and place your forearms on a ball. While maintaining postural alignment (use a dowel rod if necessary), begin to roll forward from the shoulder and hip joints simultaneously. Roll out as far as you can while still maintaining spinal alignment. When you feel the curves in your back increasing, you are losing spinal alignment. Stop just short of this point. Take three seconds to roll out to your farthest point, hold for three seconds and take three seconds to roll back to the starting position. Do 8-10 reps and up to three sets with 1 minute of rest between sets.

This is very similar to the Horse Stance-Horizontal with one exception. With your extended leg, you will draw letters of the alphabet. The letters should be four to six inches high, progressing to eight to ten inches in height.

•The spine should stay in alignment the entire time. No head dropping or looking up.
•The elbow of the support arm should point backwards NOT to the side.
•The raised arm stays at 45 degrees.
•The low back stays steady. Movement in the leg should come from the hip.
• The entire leg should move together.
•Suck your bellybutton in toward your spine during the exercise

Do the entire alphabet with each leg. When you can do this, add 1 pound to each wrist and 3 pounds to each ankle.

Hold a ball between your shins while in a pushup position and keeping your body in perfect alignment. Lift one hand off the ground, just for one second while keeping the body aligned. When you can do this 10 times on each side, begin raising the arm forward and alternating hands as you progress. NOTE: This can be a difficult exercise, so take your time with your progression.

Anchor your feet against a wall and place the apex of the ball approximately belt high. Keep your arms at your sides and hold yourself at a 45-degree angle to the ground for as long as possible. If you can hold this position for three minutes, you can hold your arms across your chest and eventually over your head. Whatever length of time you can hold this position, do it two times on each side.

Assume an athletic ready position with knees slightly flexed, rear end out and arms hanging down until your hands can rest on your knees. This puts your upper body at approximately a 45- to 60-degree angle. Hold light to medium weight dumbbells in each hand; lift with your elbows toward the sky without shrugging the shoulders. Do 10-12 reps and work up to three sets.

By doing the exercises we have talked about the past two months you should see, and feel yourself in a better posture allowing you to swing the golf club better. If you have any questions about these exercises and would like to learn more about exercise and golf, contact the Golf Performance Academy-Hilton Head at (843) 338-6737, e-mail pete@golfacademyhiltonhead.com, or find us on Facebook at Golf Performance Academy-Hilton Head.

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