What Research Tells Us About The Impact Of Strength Training On Flexibility And Durability
Fri Oct 27, 2017 by Clinton Shum
Should golfers train for strength training or should golfers train for flexibility? To some, it's a loaded question.
The anti-strength camp will predictably argue that the golfers of yesteryear looked only to stretching to maintain a supple body and ensure longevity.
The pro-strength camp will argue the strength training improves joint function and has actually been proven to improve range of motion through the joints.
The purpose of this article is to present the proven research and hopefully that will lead you to drawing your own conclusion.
What is strength?
I found this definition to be extremely relevant.
"Strength is the capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure.
One must look at strength training through the eyes of a golfer. To improve performance capacity in golf through the gym, we should look at what is required of the body to perform a golf swing. Evans et al. 2015 discussed the following:
“In contrast to the relatively low intensity demand of the rest of the game, a full swing action requires a rapid expenditure of energy. For example, professional golfers perform a swing with a driver in 1.09 seconds, with the club head reaching speeds of more than 160 km/hour. Overall muscle activity when using a 5 iron reaches 90% of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) for amateurs and 80% for professionals, and golfers perform an average of 30-40 swings every round with these high levels of intensity.”
There is no denying the high amounts of force and velocity that go into making a golf swing. Taking the definition of strength and the requirements of the swing into account, should strength training form part of a golfer’s gym routine? Decide for yourself.
Does strength training reduce flexibility?
That is the burning question.
Morton et al. 2015 - After a five week training program comparing static stretching to resistance training, found no statistical difference in flexibility tests. Quoted as saying “The results of this preliminary study suggest that carefully constructed full-range RT (resistance training) regimens can improve flexibility as well as the typical SS (static stretching) regimens employed in conditioning programs”.
Simao et al. 2011 - After a program lasting 16 weeks training 3 times a week, they compared results of a strength training program to flexibility training program in terms of impact on flexibility in women. Their results found that both the strength and flexibility programs improved flexibility. Quoted as saying- “In conclusion, short-term strength training increases flexibility and strength in sedentary adult women. Strength training may contribute to the development and maintenance of flexibility even without the inclusion of additional stretching, but strength and flexibility can be prescribed together to get optimal improvements in flexibility.”
Ribeiro et al.2017 - After a program lasting 16 weeks training 3 times a week, they analysed the impact of a resistance training program on flexibility in young men and women. They found that a resistance training program actually improved flexibility and can be quoted as saying “The results suggest that regardless of sex, RT (resistance training) improves or at least preserves the flexibility of different joint movements in young adult men and women.”
Does strength training reduce flexibility? Decide for yourself.
Does strength training increase risk of injury in golfers?
Meira et al. 2010 - After conducting a review of literature they had the following to say: “A growing body of evidence supports the prescription of strength training routines to enhance performance and reduce the risk of injury.” They summarized by reaching the following consensus: “Implementing a training program that includes flexibility, strength, and power training with correction of faulty swing mechanics will help the golfer reduce the likelihood of injury and improve overall performance.”
Lauersen et al. 2014 - They wanted to review the effectiveness of exercise interventions to reduce the risk of injury. After conducting a review of 25 trials, including 26 610 participants with 3464 injuries, they came to the following conclusions. “Despite a few outlying studies, consistently favourable estimates were obtained for all injury prevention measures except for stretching. Strength training reduced sports injuries to less than 1/3 and overuse injuries could be almost halved.” This is incredibly pertinent to golf as the majority of golf-related injuries are due to over-use and pattern overload.
Does strength training increase the risk of injury in golfers? Decide for yourself.
"To formulate a blanket opinion against strength training for all golfers based on isolated instances is failing to have awareness of the big picture.
- Clinton Shum
It’s a bit like deciding that driving cars are not safe for anyone after reading about a couple car accidents.
Lastly, I encourage people in the golfing world, fans or experts, to feel free to voice their opinion without fear of judgement and ridicule. I feel it is imperative to have these opinions being voiced, because it creates a platform for the golfing world to explore and learn more about the game, and more specifically, the importance of the body.
Over and out,
Clinton Shum is a Qualified Strength and Conditioning Golf Specialist with an honours degree in Exercise Science. TPI Level 2 Fitness Certified. Founder of Xpect Performance and is currently based at the Logical Golf Lab, Durban Country Club, South Africa. Twitter- @shum711 Instagram- clintonshum Facebook- Xpect Performance.