Tennis and golf are the most popular sports for adults over35. Gone are the days on the basketball court and soccer or football fields. Pickleball is the newest and hottest trend that picks up participants old and young! A common theme links golf and racquet sports, and that’s rotation of the upper body to generate power.
Returning to the office headlines LinkedIn and other media outlets as we continue economic and social recovery from the pandemic. Being at the office more means less movement from your desk. If you weren’t exercising during WFH or any hybrid work, your chances have dropped further. For tennis, pickleball, and golf, your ability to rotate your body to swing with power and accuracy diminishes.
In a rotational movement to swing a club or racquet, the disassociation between your upper and lower body is necessary. People with greater flexibility to rotate their upper body with their lower body remaining stationary can hit the ball harder. Sitting at your desk for six hours or more makes your rotational muscles weak and stiff.
The oblique muscles are the primary movers that help you rotate and flex your trunk. They are part of what you know to be your core along with your traditional abs. They attach along your ribcage and iliac crest on the top of your pelvis. The obliques work in conjunction with smaller muscles that attach to your spine and various sections of the ribcage. Together, these groups of muscles help you rotate, bend, and extend your upper body separately from your hips.
Stand tall with your arms across your chest. Without turningyour hips, rotate your upper body far as you can to each side. Can your chestturn 90-degrees left and right without twisting your hips? If one side can andthe other cannot, you have muscular imbalances based on past or currentinjuries that have not healed properly, or repetitive motions that cause oneside to be tighter and the other weaker. Any restrictions in the test I justgave you reduce your ability to disassociate the hips from the upper body, andtherefore reduce the power you can swing a racquet and club with.
I designed two online courses to help you stretch AND strengthen these areas I’m talking about. They are part of the 10-Minute Professional Series and aptly called Stretch at Your Desk and Strengthen at your Desk. You don’t need any equipment, workout clothes, or sweat to use the exercises right where you work each day. Simply do stretches and exercises for 10-minutes or less each day to help generate the power in your swing. Click Professional Solutions on the top menu bar, and then 10-Minute Professional Series to get started today!
In a tennis and pickleball swing, hip disassociation also helps reduce injuries because you’re in motion while swinging. You can land from a leap and rotate to swing easier because your range of motion is greater along with the strength and flexibility to stabilize the body. In a golf swing, hip disassociation allows a greater shoulder turn while keeping the lower body still to hit the ball further and with more accuracy. Your oblique and low back muscles must work in unison for proper hip disassociation to occur. This is why low back pain is detrimental to any golfer, tennis, and pickleball player.
Two exercises that can help you strengthen and stabilize your low back and oblique muscles are the Russian twist and side planks. If you have access to a gym with cable machines, you can do cable rotation also. To stretch your obliques, stand tall with your feet hip width apart, hands at your sides, and eyes forward. Keeping your eyes on the horizon, slide your hand down your leg as far as you can without leaning forward or backward, and shifting your hips laterally, then repeat on the other side.
Watch the pros rotate their upper bodies relative to their lower bodies. It’s easier to see in golf because they are stationary more than tennis and pickleball. You can see how flexible they are in these movements to generate the power and accuracy they desire. Practicing and getting lessons does not equate to greater strength and flexibility. You must dedicate time to stretch and strengthen additionally to practicing the respective swings. Too many people think going to the range or court is enough to get their muscles working properly, wrong!
Put the work in to get the results out. Use the 10-MinuteProfessional Series or hire a personal trainer to help you achieve the strengthand flexibility you deserve. If you invested in high level equipment andlessons, invest into improving the function of your muscles to maximize yourtime and energy.