Some of us may have an idea about what core training entails. Swing coaches and trainers talk about it in relation to the swing, but what actually is the core?
When the question is asked, “What is the core?” The most common answer is, “Your abdominals.” The core can be defined as the region of the body that incorporates the hips, abdominals, obliques, and lower back.
The definition of the core indicates that it is an anatomical region of the body. The top of your chest to your hips is the easiest way to think about the core region. This part of the body includes numerous muscles in each of these defined regions. Think about all those little back muscles that your doctor speaks about when you are injured. Those muscles are part of the core. When you see those infomercials for the “latest and greatest” abdominal machine, those machines are supposedly going to give you that “six pack.” The muscles of the “six pack” are part of your core. These two regions of the body are the easy parts of the core to understand, but what about the other parts?
The general definition of the core indicates that it encompasses ALL the muscles between your chest and lower body. Keeping this definition in mind, what other muscles would be incorporated in the core region? Probably the easiest way to do this is to create a mental image of the body and then look at what muscles are in this region of the body.
The hips are part of the core, and all the muscles in this region of the body are part of the core. The muscles within the hips contain the hip flexors, hip extensors, adductor complex, abductor complex, gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, gluteus medius, origin of the hamstrings, and origin of the quads. Quite a few muscles, wouldn’t you say?
Currently, we have the muscles of the hips, low back, and the “six pack,” but there are more. We can essentially factor two more muscle groups into the core region. Probably the most under recognized muscles in the core region are termed the “deep stabilizing muscles” of the spine.
The easiest way to think of these muscles is the following: Think about “peeling away the top layer of your abdominals (the “six pack”) and the top layer of your lower back muscles. Underneath these muscles would be another group of muscles that function to stabilize the spine. The number of muscles in this region of the body is numerous. The names of a few are: transverse abdominus, erector spinae, and spinaleus. Again, these are just a few of the muscles in this region. If we were to name all of them, it could easily fill this whole page.
We have one final group of muscles that comprise the core region, and they are on the sides of the body (the place where we quite often develop those “love handles”). You now know where these muscles are, and we anatomically describe these muscles as your obliques. The two major muscles in this region are the external and internal obliques. In addition, you will find other muscles within this region such as the serratus.
At this point you should have a good understanding of the core region, the muscles groups of the core, and the specific muscles contained within this region. Now we move on to the functioning of the core in regards to golf.
First question, why are these muscles so important to golf? Before we answer that question, let’s look at this region of the body in a little more detail.
A vast number of muscles comprise this region of the body as we know at this point in time. Some of you probably have some first hand experience with the muscles of the core. If you have ever had a lower back injury, you know what I am talking about.
What we need to understand at this point, before entertaining the question of the core’s involvement in the golf swing, is the following:
Realize that all of the core muscles function as a unit, meaning they work together to essentially stabilize and move the body. The movements that this region of the body is involved in are vast. Any movement other than probably lying on your back utilizes the core the cores in some way, shape, or form. Let me explain this thought. We know that the core region is involved in stabilizing the spine, right? Well with that thought in mind, your spine needs to be stabilized in any upright posture you place your body. For example, as I am writing this article, I am sitting at my computer. For my body to maintain this “seated, upright position” my spine must be stabilized. The muscles of the core region perform this activity.
When we begin to talk about the body moving is where we can really see the core becoming active. Just think of some simple activities like walking, bending over to pick up a newspaper, etc. All of these activities are utilizing the core to stabilize the spine, bend, turn, rotate the body, and transfer energy from your feet to the upper body. (Don’t worry too much about this thought; it is for another article.) The core is integrated as a unit and involved in almost every movement that you perform in your daily lives. I hope by this time you can see the importance of the core when it comes to human movement. Now let us move on to a topic of more interest to all of us, and that is the golf swing.
Looking at the golf swing, the core region of the body is considered “the engine of the body.” It is responsible for the balance, stability, and rotation required to swing a golf club. From address to follow through, this section of the body plays a large part in the execution of the swing.
If you have an understanding of what muscles comprise the core region and their importance when it comes to human movement, then you will undoubtedly see the importance of the core as it pertains to the golf swing. This little discussion has probably provided you with the understanding that there is more than “meets the eye” when discussing the core region.
Sean Cochran is one of the most recognized golf fitness instructors in the world today. He travels the PGA Tour regularly working with PGA Professionals, most notably Masters and PGA Champion Phil Mickelson. To learn more about Sean and his golf fitness programs go to http://www.bioforcegolf.com