One of the biggest challenges to a golfer of any skill level is making a swing change. Often, this is due to physical limitations that can affect their ability to create the correct sequence of motion in the golf swing. As a coach or a player, it can be frustrating to try to make changes when the body is simply unable to move effectively. This is when it’s essential to have the correct team that is capable of identifying the solution to the problem. Having a qualified golf, fitness or medical professional that can physically assess you and determine if there is a physical limitation affecting your swing, is essential to developing as a golfer. Two areas of concern that often affect golfers are poor thoracic mobility and poor hip mobility, both of which are necessary to create a consistent and powerful motion in the golf swing. Poor thoracic range of motion can hinder your ability to rotate your spine and get your arms up in the air during the backswing. This is often highlighted by poor posture at address with a rounded upper back and shoulders that are rolled forward. This can also affect your lower body speed. When the muscles in the back are lengthened due to poor posture, they end up dissipating the transfer of energy from the ground and lead to slower movement of the lower extremities. This in turn can negatively affect your transition from the backswing to the downswing. Poor hip mobility is one of the biggest culprits in creating injury. This is partially due to our sedentary lifestyle, which incorporates more sitting today than ever before. The sitting position creates tightness in the hip flexors and adductors. On the backswing, you internally rotate into your trail hip and on the downswing your internally rotate into you lead hip. If you have poor hip range of motion, it can cause excess lateral movement in your lower body and prevent you from creating consistent, solid contact. In the column to the right of this article I have posted some of my favorite exercises for the thoracic spine and hips. If you feel like your body may be affecting your ability to improve or change your golf swing, contact one of our TPI Certified experts for a physical evaluation.
Your Hips And Your Swing
Couresty Dr. Greg Rose. All golf swings come in many forms but one of the issues that kills speed is the lack of internal hip rotation. Sit on a chair and make two fists. Put the fists between your knees and keep your knees against your fists as you try and move your legs outward. This outward movement is internal hip rotation, your legs are moving out but your hips are turning in. This is the same motion that occurs in the hip joint during a good swing. The golfer rotates around the right hip, shifts their weight then rotates back around the left hip. The average PGA tour player has over 45 degrees of internal hip rotation on both sides. If you suffer from a sway or slide in your golf swing and lack the power you really want the first thing you need to check is your internal hip rotation. You can bet it will be limited if you suffer from the sway and slide swing fault. Lack of internal hip rotation can also be the cause of tight hamstrings and lower back pain as well as knee and ankle problems. The hip joint needs to be very mobile, having to withstand both direct loading stresses and large rotational forces with weight-bearing activities. As a result it is especially vulnerable to injury in sports that involve pivoting or twisting movements such as golf. In golf the hip is especially exposed to high-velocity internal rotation on the downswing, requiring a great deal of strength in the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius, two of the muscles that make up your butt. Interestingly golfers are suffering from a greater risk of hip injury, arising from the greater rotation favored by the more modern golf swing. This evolved to reduce the risk of back injury caused by the more classic swing of the seventies and eighties. If you are looking for more power and to avoid future injury you need to make sure the muscles around your hips are supporting you. See the attached exercises and swing drills to help strengthen the muscles around your hips and improve your hip rotation. If you are interested in getting a full golf specific assessment and workout specific to your golf swing, see our find a fitness pro map on the website and contact a TPI certified fitness professional.
The Seated Trunk Rotation Test
5 EXERCISES FOR INCREASING THORACIC SPINE MOBILITY
You should only perform the following exercises if you have had clearance from your Doctor. Perform them when you are warmed up and start with 3 times per week.
Open Books Lying on your back place the top leg over to the side and keep the knee held down as you perform the exercise. Your head can be resting on a pillow or pad and you should let it move as you complete the exercise. Take the top arm over to the opposite side of the body to the held down knee and rotate the torso to increase the stretch through the T-Spine area. The important point in this movement is to keep the pelvis stable so that the stretch is felt in the mid-upper back. Hold the position for a count of 5-10 and repeat several times each side.
Anti-Rotation - Plank Rows Assume a plank position on the hands. The aim with this exercise is to not let the body rotate as you lift one hand off the floor. To make this easier you can place your feet wider, or to challenge yourself keep them closer together. Before you raise your hand, brace your core and slowly row your hand to your side, lower it back down and repeat on the other side. To increase the load you can use dumbbells and you can also mix it up by lifting one foot at a time. Remember – there should be no movement of the body, just the limb that is being raised off the ground. This exercise, although it’s called ‘anti-rotation’ will actually strengthen the muscles that drive rotation in the swing. Perform 2-3 sets of 4-6 rows each side as part of your exercise programme.
This exercise can be done in two positions: sitting down on the heels and on all fours. Place one hand on the head and move the elbow from the floor to the air, rotating through the T-Spine. Try to fix the position of the pelvis so that there is no compensatory movement adding to the rotation. Complete 5 reps each side and then repeat the drill, this time trying to rotate a little further through the T-Spine.
Spiderman Stretch This is a great stretch for increasing mobility through the hips and the T-spine. Lunge forwards, place both hands inside the front foot and reach with alternating hands into the air with rotation from the torso. Hold this position for a count of 5 and repeat on the other side. You can keep the back knee off the floor to challenge yourself further and you can also add in a hamstring stretch to the exercise straight after the lunge, as shown in the video.