It’s supposed to be the signature go-to move for upper body strength – the classic pushup.
So if you’re finding you’re lacking power in your swing, you’ve probably considered adding them into your repertoire. But could they actually make your swing worse?
Don’t get me wrong, taking the time to go through a strength program at the gym or do that little extra training at home is definitely beneficial to get the most out of your golfing ability.
Surely an exercise that has your chest, shoulders and back of your arms burning like a firepit will help you win this weekend’s game, right?
Or could this be a bad thing for your golf swing?
Firstly, lets look at what actually happens when your muscles perform a push-up.
On the downwards phase, your chest, shoulders and tricep muscles (the ones at the back of the arm) are being lengthened and are getting ready to quickly shorten to contract.
Once your chest touches the floor, BANG, you contract those muscles to push you back to the starting position. One rep! Done!
However, when a muscle contracts, it shortens ever so slightly.
This is completely normal and happens with all strength exercises.
But after 20, 30, 40, 50 even 100 repetitions of pushup, (aka contractions), your chest, shoulders and triceps become significantly shorter.
This quickly develops into upper body tightness, less power potential and restricted range of movement.
Ok but how does this effect your swing?
During the back swing, for a right handed player, the right elbow needs come away from the body to allow a full complete back swing.
This movement of the elbow is called “ABduction”.
However, your chest muscles are designed to promote ADduction (keeping the elbow on the body).
Therefore, when you’re on the first tee, a day or two after completing several pushups, and you go to pull back on your first drive, your chest muscles will be additionally tight and not want to let your elbow come away freely from your body.
Through pushups, you have actually trained your chest muscles to be strong and tight promoting Adduction when you actually need more Abduction.
Your sending mixed messaging to your shoulder.
One day you want them strong, so your did pushups which causes tightness (ADduction) and now, you want them to be flexible and loose to perform the best swing possible (Abduction).
They can’t do both simultaneously!
They are opposing movements of the shoulder.
Does this mean you should never do push-ups again? No. It just means you need to restore full range of motion in your shoulder to be able to perform your swing optimally.
So, how can you do that? Two ways.
- Firstly, if you’re going to do strengthening exercises such as pushups, leave ample time before your game so you can stretch your chest muscles well, allowing them to get back to full range of motion before you tee-off.
The best time to stretch a muscle after exercise is 4+ hours post exercise.
- Secondly, focus on balancing the strength of the muscles that “Adduct” and “Abduct” the shoulder. This includes paying attention to the muscles on the side and back of your shoulder and upper back as well.
Getting the balance right in your shoulders can be a tricky thing, but getting it right can greatly improve your golf swing.
If you’d like a full assessment and therapy for your shoulders to enhance your golf swing, you can get in touch or book in for an appointment online here.
Otherwise, purchase our popular starter pack here and experience the stretch therapy difference in just 4 sessions (plus save $129).