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Calf Flexibility

Calf flexibility would have to top my list of the most influential muscle that can alter a golfer’s swing and is usually totally overlooked.

jb

In my research of limitations in the body that have a direct correlation to swing mechanics I have uncovered many obvious relationships.  Like limited separation between your upper and lower body will directly affect your shoulder turn.  Limited right hip internal rotation can cause a sway.  But there are many of these limitations that are not so obvious.  Calf flexibility would have to top my list of the most influential muscle that can alter a golfer’s swing and is usually totally overlooked. 

The calf is made up of two distinct muscles, the gastrocnemius and the soleus muscles.  The gastrocnemius is the larger of the two muscles and helps create the definition in the player’s lower leg.  But it is the soleus that can wreak havoc on a golfer’s posture and swing sequence if there are any limitations in the muscles flexibility.

The soleus can limit a player’s ability to perform closed chain dorsi-flexion (flexing your ankle) which in turn, can limit the player’s ability to perform a deep squat.  It has been shown through research that any limitation in a deep squat can cause a player to come out of their posture during the downswing and go into Early Extension (see swing faults).  This will cause the player to get stuck and either push the ball or flip the club and force the dreaded hook.  All of this from a tight soleus!

To test your soleus length, try to perform the Overhead Deep Squat Test (part of our self-evaluation tests).  If you can’t keep your heels on the ground and squat all the way down, then the calf may be the culprit.  To isolate the calf, try performing the half-kneeling calf stretch.  If you can’t get your knee past your toe, then the soleus is the problem. 

To improve your soleus length, try some myofascial release on the back of the calf, using a body stick (www.spriproducts.com/Item.aspx?ItemID=433), a spiky ball, or foam roller to work out any trigger points or sore spots before you stretch the muscle (#1., below).  Then stretch the calf using a bent knee position to make sure you isolate the soleus and not the gastrocnemius (#2., below).

jb

For loads of additional golf conditioning and fitness content such as this, please visit www.MyTPI.com .

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