Anatomy of the Golf Swing – Why it Matters

What does ‘anatomy of the golf swing’ mean, and why does it matter?

Typically an ‘anatomy of the golf swing’ article or book will merely talk of which muscles are active at what stage of the golf swing. Whose golf swing? A ‘generally accepted as correct’ one.

The preceding series of articles in this blog, based on video from the Champions’ Tour event – The Regions Tradition – are not focused so much on which muscles are used at which stage of the swing, but basically on how the major joints (spine, shoulder, elbow, forearm, wrist, hip, knee, ankle) are being moved.

Each joint has a different purpose, and thus different design, in order to move its limb in the manner of the daily needs of our early ancestors. Each joint can move in one, two or three of three different planes or directions – forwards/backwards, sideways and with a rotary move on a horizontal plane.

For instance, the elbow was designed to straighten or bend in the forward direction, to catch or hold onto something. The shoulder was designed to have a vast range of motion in order to move the entire arm and position the hand for everything from a boxing punch to delicate embroidery. Basically, every joint cannot be put in any-old position, while still retaining its efficiency of movement.

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For instance, suppose you had to eat soup out of a bowl to your side, while keeping the entire arm in line with the body, never in front of it. Can it be done? Yes, the shoulder will re-position the elbow (and thus the forearm and hand) to allow the movement, but will have to make one extra movement to do so (rotated sideways or ‘externally rotated’ first), while the forearm will have to have both its bones parallel to one another (supine) and the wrist will have to flex much more than if one were eating out of a bowl in front of oneself. Thus the entire upper-arm kinetic chain (comprising the shoulder, elbow, wrist and forearm) has made several compensatory moves to make up for the awkward angle of the entire movement.

The same thing happens with the typically used golf swing. With the obsession for club positions and global body movements (involving multiple joints), no one seems to be assessing each joint independently, (which is, in fact, the basis of any global movement), just because it seems to be one smooth-flowing, single motion.

In the preceding series of ‘anatomy of his swing’ posts, each golfer has been assessed for how many of his joints are moved into awkward positions which he will waste time undoing the awkwardness of, and which really are not essential to the main movements of the golf swing – mainly horizontal plane rotation of the body (picture a merry-go-round), along with mainly vertical plane rotation of the body (more like a ferris wheel). Anytime the body attempts a ‘merry-wheel’ or a ‘ferris-go-round’, confusion and inefficiency (and thus greater potential for injury) result!

One reply on “Anatomy of the Golf Swing – Why it Matters”

  1. I”m hoping to invite comments by writing on this blog about Kiran”s fine work and teaching and her excellent insights. Personally, I believe that we should always talk about the elephant in the room and in golf the elephant is human physiology and club design in harmony.

    There are many fine golf teachers and systems. I have met and studued with Lynn Blake who is masterful in his understanding of “The Golf Machine.” He is also a decent man. “The Golf Machine” is a detailed meditation on how the golf club must be swung. Gary Edwin’s Right sided Swing takes club design and anatomy very seriously
    my opinion it lacks the essential bio-mechanical insights Kiran.
    begins with and the efficient appropriation of that insight via. MGMS. I think if Lynn and Kiran knew each other and conversed they would enjoy each other immensely.

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