Any golfer, or even those who have simply observed the game of golf, inherently understand that the swing is primarily a rotational movement. With any rotational sport, whether it be golf, punching, throwing, or tennis, there is a contribution to this rotation from several segments of the body, or what we refer to as the kinetic chain.
Maximizing force output in rotational movements for the large part requires optimization of rotational force through the hips and the upper back (thoracic spine).
If we fail to utilize these areas to their maximal potential, we may leave a lot of potential power (in other words, yards!) on the table. This may also increase the rotational load through the lower back, potentially contributing to injury in this area.
Utilization of the hips and upper back will obviously be addressed within golf technique work, however, including some supplementary drills to increase the range of motion in these areas will maximize the impact of technical instruction.
The 7 drills below can be performed as part of a daily mobility routine, and are even more effective if performed as a warm-up for golf.
1. Seated hip internal rotation stretch
This exercise helps open up the hips into the internal (inwards) rotation, which is particularly important for the back leg during the backswing, and the front leg during the follow-through.
2. Split squat
As well as being able to rotate through the back hip, it is also important to have an adequate hip extension (moving the leg backward in relation to the pelvis), in order to create adequate drive from the ground up into the torso. The split squat is a terrific dynamic mobility exercise for training hip extension on the rear leg, as well as strength and braking control for the front leg.
3. Cook hip lift
The hip extension range optimized in the previous drill can be further reinforced with this exercise, which helps create strength and control throughout the range.
4. Anti-rotation press
We mentioned above how we want to limit the amount of rotation occurring at the lower back. This part of the body should be utilized as an area of force transfer, so developing stiffness here is an important part of effectively using the body to generate rotational power. The anti-rotation press is a great basic exercise to start training this quality.
5. Foam roller thoracic extension
Moving up the chain, we want to have an adequate range of motion in the upper back to help maximize the transfer of force up from the torso into the upper limbs and through to the clubhead. Extending the upper back over a foam roller is a good first step towards creating this mobility.
6. Ball thoracic extension
We then need to work on the rotational component of our upper back movement, and extending one side of the back at a time over a tennis ball/lacrosse ball is one method of facilitating this.
7. Side-lying thoracic rotation
Finally, we can work this upper back rotation into an active movement by performing some twisting motions in side-lying.
To achieve optimal performance, and even more importantly, longevity in golf, we need to treat our bodies with some regular maintenance, and a simple mobility program such as this can go a long way towards helping you become a better and healthier golfer.
Tokyo Training and Rehabilitation at Club 360
About the author
Sam Gilbert is the co-founder and clinical director at Club 360, Tokyo’s premier health, fitness, and sports rehabilitation center. He has a bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy, a master’s degree in exercise science, and competed for over a decade at an international level in full contact karate.
Learn more about Club 360
Club 360 offers a full scope of integrated fitness and health services in the heart of Tokyo. Its client-centered, holistic approach supports international and local members of the community to reach their health goals and lead better lives. Golfers will find a range of programs to suit their needs, whether that’s recovering from injury or improving your game.
You can learn more about the services they offer on their website or check them out on Facebook and Instagram.