Tensegrity: continuous tension members, and discontinuous members operating with maximum efficiency – Buckminster Fuller
Our body’s are like a continuous pressure/tension/compression structure; the head pilled on to the thorax, the thorax piled onto the hips, the hips piled on to the feet, and the connective tissue, without it – the skeleton would just fall to the ground. Our bones float in soft tissue, and thus connective tissue needs to be able to elongate, as well as shorten to counter balance the specific tension and power output placed on the body structure.
This thought process comes from the idea of Buckminster Fuller, where he states that the myo fascia and soft connective tissue act as an architectural structure… or body geometry of sorts. Tensegrity refers to a system composed of compressional elements (struts in the case of architecture, and bone in the case of humans) that are held together, upright, and/or moved by a continuous tensional network; which slide over one another, like a matrix, and interwoven fabric of soft tissue.
Through pulling mechanisms via tension and compression these components re-enforce the tensional integrity of the compressional elements and body structure.
If you can imagine a spider web and the matrix of that web, if you were to pull on one piece of that tensional network (or the web), it would have an affect on the rest of that tensional network, this includes the bones and even the organs. Therefore, to put it bluntly, tensegrity of the tissue offers extra support in a tensional way, not in a compression way.
Over the course of the last two week we have looked at the integration of both proficient screening tools – the TPI and the FMS/SFMA screens. Integrating these two screens will allow you to now only assess biomechanical dysfunctions in the body, but breakdowns in the specific movement patterns associated with golf performance.
We also broke down the golf swing into two common styles, to showcase the common breakdowns associated with each in the golf swing patterning. We take this one step further by filtering our attention towards two of the fascial lines (keeping in mind, when we improve the functionality of one line, we will irrevocably impact them all, as they are all connected). These are the lateral and spiral line meridians.
The Lateral Line Anatomy
Peroneal muscles > ITB > TFL/Glute max > External/Internal Oblique & deep QL > Internal/External intercostals > Splenius cervicis/iliocostalis cervis/SCM/Scalenes
The Spiral Line Anatomy
Splenius Capitis > Rhomboids (opposite side to splenius capitis) > serratus anterior > External/internal oblique > TFL (opposite side of obliques) > ITB > Anterior tibialis > Peroneus longus > biceps femoris >sacrotuberous ligament > sacral fascia > erector spinae
Postural difficulties in the body will affect your golf game – there is no doubt. The S posture in golf or rounded shoulders will limit your swing and performance, but it will also create more tension on your spiral lines and compression of the joints.
Your lateral line and spiral line meridians are the two main fascial lines that allow the human body to rotate and change direction. Since golf is all about rotation, this is where our focus will be to showcase the importance of balance and proper tensegrity needed to be as efficient as one can, on and off the green. It should also be noted, that even though these two lines are the primary components of rotation, flexion and extension patterning also plays an integral role in rotation (thus, the earlier commentary on posture and rounding of the shoulders).
Many of the clients I work with have restriction and bound tension around the pelvic girdle, upper neck and connections with the lats and scapular regions. This causes a decrease in rotation and a choppy flow through of power through the swing. It also limits the necessary movement of the knees and ankle joints on the upswing.
Thinking about multi-segmental rotation can be a bit daunting, however, once broken down can be a little easier to implement an effective intervention program. Your corrective drills should include a sequence that allows you to separate shoulder and hip rotation, so that you can functionally improve your rotational flexibility, stability and strength while increasing your active range of motion and optimizing the sequence of movements provided.
Below are a few steps to start you on your way to better rotation:
Step 1: First determine which rotation is limited – left or right – and then take into account the actions of the muscles in these associated lines. How does it feel when you move?
Step 2: Go deeper, once you have established if the rotation is more limited left or right. Ask yourself, which muscles are internally rotating, which are externally rotating? How does the body shift – does it feel like a stiff movement left to right through your golf swing, or does it feel smooth? Choppy etc? Where do you feel the restrictions?
Step 3: Corrective Drills: Start by treating 1-2 restricted areas with a few corrective movement exercises/drills combined with soft tissue release.
Step 4: Re evaluate: the movement and swing pattern to see if there is improvement in the pattern. If the movement has improved then these drills should be integrated into your workout sequence for a week or until the wing becomes more natural without as much prep.
Step 5: Progression: This is when you then move onto the next phase of the corrective movement progression.
An area that is often left out of the corrective or coaching equation , is flexion and extension of the cervical spine and muscles associated with the neck. We need to keep in mind that our flexion with rotation in accordance with range of motion needs to be tested from the cervical spine pattern, as this can also influence both of these lines.
Treating the appropriate musculature at the neck, shoulder and muscles associated with all 4 joints of the shoulder girdle will be a necessary component to improving rotation and your golf game.
In closing remember – soft tissue release first and sequenced movements that are corrective in nature will help you improve the tensegrity of your soft tissue, improve joint range of motion and stability of the joints, as well as improve your club swing!