Karga : A new approach to core exercise for golfers :
Founders movement coach Peter Gallagher & chartered physiotherapist Sid Ahamed MCSP explain how Karga can benefit players of all levels of ability.
Our Introductory article explained how the core muscles function generally. In this article we will explain core function related to golf. ( We recommend that you read ‘An Introduction to Karga’ prior to reading sport specific articles )
So how does the core function in Golf?
As noted in our Introduction we view the core as a functional control unit comprising the muscles that connect the ribcage to the pelvis and their myofascial attachments. We discussed that our view differs from traditional core theory in some key areas as explored below.
Golf is a dynamic sport which presents unique challenges to the core. The requirement for controlled power as the golfer uncoils whilst driving the ball, for perfect balance and poise when playing deft shots around the green or when on shifting sand in the traps all serve to highlight the challenge.
Although many golf shots are played in the idealised position of neutral spine, with constant length demonstrated in the trunk, the dynamic ability to move away from neutral spine under control is also required. Hence whilst traditional core exercises such as the plank which develop this ability to maintain a fixed distance between the ribs and pelvis can be helpful, a dynamic solution is also required. Developing a dynamic core that can functionally control and add power to the swing is where the Karga approach to core training comes in.
We saw in our introduction that runners generate tension in the core providing trunk and pelvic control which gives the legs and arms a stable base to work off. Golfers have a similar requirement for stability adopting a wide stance and generating tension in the core to provide a stable platform to play from. However, golf also has an intrinsic requirement for accuracy and control with the key to good technique being balance, poise and correct posture. Karga develops these attributes through a blend of dynamic and static core work.
A stable base also maximises the efficiency of a core mechanism called elastic force transfer.
As we saw in our introductory article diagonal force transfer through the core is why runners drive their arms allowing energy created in the upper limbs to flow through the core increasing power to the legs via diagonal energy transfer.
Golfers also use this mechanism allowing the stronger lower limb and trunk muscles to add power to the arms.
Golfers often call this coiling the spring and visualise their torso as a spring which winds up during the back swing and when released on the downswing imparts tremendous speed and energy to the club head.
High handicap golfers tend to utilise their arms excessively and not fully rotate or turn during the backswing. Hence, they are unable to harness the available power that diagonal energy transfer can create and therefore hit the ball much shorter distances.
The concept of a rigid static core is not helpful here as the golfer needs to be able to move the upper torso and shoulder girdle independently from the pelvis to initially create and subsequently release coiled tension. Some static control is undoubtedly required at certain times through the swing but a need for dynamic control is also needed.
As we see here follow through and shaping shots may require deviation from the neutral spine into positions which may not seem optimal but are required to execute a specific technique.
Our concept of the dynamic core allows us to visualise the muscles working functionally to provide such postural control, power and accuracy.
Golfers also need to maintain length in the trunk and to learn how to rotate around a central axis with perfect control.
Karga is therefore a natural fit, teaching golfers how to appreciate and control their dynamic posture and is why Karga is generating so much interest.
In conclusion the core in golf must allow elastic energy transfer between the limbs, assist in control of the momentum of the moving limbs and trunk and provide dynamic stability and optimum dynamic posture. A highly functional dynamic core develops control which is key in precision sports and factors which can inhibit the core need to be addressed. One such factor is appreciating how flexibility can affect core function as we will see below. Karga has recognised this and developed exercises to synchronously develop core control and flexibility.
Golf and Flexibility
The majority of amateur and high handicap golfers neglect flexibility training, a lack of which is harmful and can lead to inhibition of the core and thus loss of form as we saw in our Straight leg raise test in ‘An Introduction to Karga‘
In our straight leg test, limitation of the back line structures makes it difficult to complete the task and such limitation in a golfer makes it difficult to attain the required optimum positions required or to control their movement. Many amateurs cannot attain the most efficient dynamic postures and technique due to a lack of flexibility. Most high handicap golfers recognise that they do not complete the turn during wind up, do not have the flexibility to have the club pointing at the target at the top of the turn or to fully follow through.
Many golfers don’t have the flexibility to complete the turn reducing leverage, or to fully follow through.
- They lack the appropriate flexibility in the lateral, spiral and arm line structures to attain the required posture. Attempting optimum technique therefore stretches the tight muscles and connective tissues leading to strain and misfiring in the muscular chains. This affects muscular control and precision and as we all know only too well minor faults in the swing result in major inaccuracy in shot making.
- The limited mobility also directly inhibits core function, reducing stability and elastic energy transfer and thus less power is available, reducing club head speed and again affecting accuracy.
Hence Karga targets function providing exercise to synchronously develop core control and flexibility and this is what makes us unique.
Karga exercise and drills for Golf
Karga can thus be used as part of a players training program. As with all sports athletes are encouraged to adopt a whole body approach and players often perform the full range of Karga drills.
However our experience demonstrates that many players have some specific limitations and core training requirements and Karga routines can be tailored to meet these needs:
The Spiral and Lateral Line structures.
The illustrations are a simplified interpretation of the anatomy Chains of Myers TW which demonstrate how muscles along the chain are linked by connective tissue and hence work together functionally rather than as individual units. Myers TW 2014 Anatomy Trains ISBN 978-0-7020-4654-4
Golfers require great flexibility and control in these connected chains and the following exercises develop such flexibility whilst training and building control in the connected core. The video clip illustrates how Karga begins to condition these tissues and develops core control
DMT : Karga is based on Dynamic Movement Training
Karga for golf incorporates many other drills focussing on these structures, the arm lines and other important chains in addition to some general and traditional core work.