Mobility for the Golf Swing, Part I:
The Mid-Back/Thoracic Spine
Thinking about the golf swing, the last article focused on general strength needed from the set up to the finish after impact. Now the focus will be shifted to mobility needed for the golf swing with part one looking at the mid-back/thoracic spine to address mobility deficits or lacking range of motion (ROM) in this area. The mid-back/thoracic spine can bend forward (flexion), come back to vertical or a tall position (extension), side bend, and rotate for its ROM. The main focus will be on mid-back/thoracic spine rotation since this is a necessary part of the golf swing to get the golf club in the right position from the start of the swing to the top and from the descent at the top through impact with the golf ball. A lack of mid-back/thoracic spine rotation can limit the amount of club head speed created reduced distance the golf ball will travel and can lead to mis-hits or poor shots on a more frequent basis than someone who has better mid-back/thoracic spine rotation.
The question you may ask now is how do I improve my mid-back/thoracic spine rotation? Well there are a few exercises/mobility drills that I would like to show you in this article that are simple, require no equipment, and have simple instructions to improve your mid-back/thoracic spine mobility while at home that will take just a short amount of time to perform. You do not have to spend 45-60 minutes every single day on this, but just 5-20 minutes focusing on quality mobility for the mid-back/thoracic spine at home or just before playing a round or hitting golf balls on the driving range. The main thing to take away from this article is: 1) how to perform the mobility exercises that will be given 2) staying consistent with the routine to improve mid-back/thoracic spine range of motion especially for rotation needed in the golf swing 3) helping to make improvements to generate more club head speed and a bigger turn in the mid-back/thoracic spine in the golf swing.
Here are five simple mid-back/thoracic spine mobility exercises that need very minimal equipment and able to be done at home:
1) Open Book/Side Lying Rotation
Keys: Lay on a bed/ground on the side with shoulders down to the foot in a straight line. The top leg has the knee bent up to the hips and bottom leg is straight. Open up the top arm and let the trunk/mid-back follow towards the ground.
2) Wall Rotations
Keys: Keep the body close to the wall and the back leg is on the ground kneeling while the front leg is bent at the knee up to hip level. The front arm reaches back along with the trunk/mid-back towards the opposite wall while the back arm is firm against the wall.
3) Kneeling Rotations/Reach Backs
Keys: The butt sits on the heels to prevent the low back from being active. One way is to be on elbows with a flat back and the other way is arms extended with slight forward lean of back. Take one arm and put it behind your head. Rotate the mid back and head up towards the ceiling as far as you can go then return to the start position.
4) Preacher Position
Keys: The butt sits on the heels to prevent the low back from being active. Hold the broomstick/dowel/wand/rod underhand with palms up and elbows bent resting on a support surface. Lean the trunk/upper body back towards the heels and hold the position a few seconds with the broomstick/dowel/wand/rod up from the support surface then come back to the start position.
5) Seated Thoracic Spine/Mid-Back Rotation
Keys: Sit on a chair or supported surface with feet on the floor, knees bent, and tall trunk. Cross the arms and turn the head along with the trunk towards one side while keeping the lower body in the same position. Return to the start position and rotate towards the other side as well.
Hope these five mobility exercises help to make continuous improvements for your golf game especially at the mid-back/thoracic spine that is critical to improve club head speed for more power and distance. Just a reminder that you can always get a hold of me at the Center for Physical Excellence to help get started on the right track for your golf game as well.
Andrew Roberts, PTA, CSCS