Now time for back pain…or maybe not! Many avid golfers complain of chronic low back pain as the season progresses. Warming-up often gets overlooked as people get right into swinging, whether at the driving range or at the first hole. Here are a few mobility drills that will help to get the body warmed-up and help to prevent injury, especially at the low back.
A strong golf swing starts from the ground up. The ability to bend the ankle (dorsiflex) will allow for a greater transfer of power at the beginning of the downswing.
Start in a half kneel position with a dowel or club lined up at your second toe. Shift your weight forward, keeping your heel on the ground. It is important to keep your hip and thigh in line as it will want to push out to the side if your ankles are limited. Hold for 5-30 seconds and return to start position, repeat for a few repetitions on each side.
Many golfers when addressing the ball do not line up with their spine in a neutral posture. Starting your swing in an anterior or posterior pelvic tilt (shown below) will limit your swing at some point, requiring another part of your body to compensate.
“S” Curve (Excessive Anterior Pelvic Tilt)
“C” Curve (Excessive Posterior Pelvic Tilt)
This position shown above with the club along the spine is known as a hip hinge. The club is making contact at the base of the head, middle of the shoulder blades and at the top of the tail bone. This position is considered a neutral spine with some hip flexion. Start standing tall holding the club behind your back with one hand higher and one hand lower. Maintaining contact at all three points, slowly bend your hips until you are in “address the ball” position. Then stand up tall. Repeat until this feels comfortable and try to perform without the club along the spine.
This exercise is for thoracic spine rotation. Lay on your side. Take your top hand and grab underneath your lower ribs. Rotate your top shoulder backwards, trying to get your top shoulder blade towards the floor. Hold for 5-30 seconds, maintaining steady deep breaths. Repeat on each side
Thoracic rotation is important for transferring power throughout the swing. The body needs to be able to “dissociate” or separate the pelvis rotation from the torso rotation and vice versa. In this drill shown above, the goal is to keep your hips/base of support stable while rotating through the thoracic spine. Get into a half kneeling position while holding a golf club with both hands. Alternate rotations to each side, using the upper body while preventing movement from the hips and knees. Try to keep your spine tall during the rotation.
I had the opportunity to take a course this past weekend with Dr. Greg Rose, a chiropractor with a background in engineering. Dr. Rose has spent his career studying biomechanics of the body and assessing movement patterns, most specifically in the sport of golf. He helped create MYTPI.com with the experts at Titleist Performance Institute. The website has a great database of swing deviations and exercises targeted to fix those deviations. If you want more information, use the website to search for local experts who are TPI certified and can help improve your golf game and prevent injury.