Maybe It’s Not the Clubs…Maybe it’s You?
It’s April, spring is in the air and golf season is here. It’s time to dust off the sticks and hit the range. Maybe you’ve thought about upgrading some of your equipment, or getting some lessons (highly recommended!). But, have you noticed just how stiff those first few golf swings of the season feel? Ever considered that getting your body into shape for golf might be just as important as that new driver you’ve been coveting?
“...have you noticed just how stiff those first few golf swings of the season feel?”
Today we’re going to talk about a few things you can do to self assess your golf swing, and recommend a few exercises that might help you get your body ready to hit the links.
Rotation of your body is an integral part of your golf swing and is likely one of the variables causing you to feel that early season stiffness. Just look at how much this skeleton from Evil Dead 2 has to rotate on his golf swing!
Rotation in the golf swing comes from two key places: your hips, and your upper back.
Mid back, a.k.a. Thoracic Spine Rotation is an essential part of your golf swing.
One way to Assess Your Mid Back Rotation:
In your starting golf posture cross your arms and grab your shoulders.
Try to rapidly rotate your shoulders while not moving your lower half.
Difficulty keeping your hips still while isolating your upper body rotation might mean your upper back is stiff, but could also mean your hips are weak.
One way to Mobilize Your Stiff Back:
Start by sitting on your knees meet your elbows together with your forearms on the floor.
Reach one arm behind your lower back and focus on rotating through your upper back. Use a deep breath in this rotated position to help increase the stretch.
To increase the stretch you can also put a band around your shoulder, reach for it behind your back, and set up the stretch as described above.
How to Isolate and Strengthen Your Back Rotation:
In a lunge position using a cable or exercise band reach with one hand and rotate through your upper back.
Your lower half should be held stable by your hip muscles in the lunge position.
Chubbs might have been on to something here; the hips are a key place where rotation happens in the golf swing. Do you ever notice your lead foot really wants to open up on your follow through? Check this video for a few tips on how to assess and mobilize your lead hip.
How to Assess Yourself:
Have you noticed your lead (front) foot seems to rotate significantly out of position on your follow through? This might indicate its lacking range of motion. The video below shows another way you might also assess your hip range of motion.
How to Mobilize Your Stiff Hip:
Try the dancing drill. Exaggerate stepping through into your lead hip on your follow through while maintaining your lead foot position.
How to Strengthen Your Hips:
So much power and stability come from your hips. Doing this exercise is a great way to strengthen your hips while maintaining a golf posture. You should feel the effort of this drill on the sides of your hips.
While these tips might be useful for you, nothing beats a full assessment from a Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) Certified Physiotherapy professional. A TPI trained physiotherapist would be able to break down all aspects of the physical characteristics of your swing and would be able to provide a customized treatment plan to fit your needs.
About the Author:
Dan Wilson is a physiotherapist at the Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Clinic Plaza of Nations Location. Over the years he has fallen in love with the sport of golf and is currently completing his Titleist Performance Institute Level One certification. When not working downtown, or taking care of his toddlers, Dan can be found at the UBC Golf Course driving range working on his golf game.