As the seasons rotate from summer to fall, it’s a good time to focus on your physical rotation. Trunk rotation is essential to the golf swing; it enables you to separate your shoulders from your pelvis. Some literature will refer to this separation as the “X factor.” A greater degree of separation between your shoulder blades and your pelvis/ hips allows players to apply force over a greater distance. When executed with speed this creates power.
Maximizing the player’s trunk rotation while maintaining the alignment of the shoulder blades parallel to the pelvis is crucial to maintaining a consistent golf swing.
Here are three exercises to improve your swing by increasing your thoracic spine’s ability to rotate.
Lay on a foam roller with the roller perpendicular to your spine. Spend two minutes rolling up and down your spine to loosen any tight muscles. Keeping the roller still, with your hands supporting your neck, arch over the roller. Extend 3-5 times, move the roller two inches up or down your spine; repeat. Finally, lay on the roller with it running parallel to your spine, from your head to your tailbone. Keep as much of your spine on the roller, then slowly extend your arms above your head. Repeat six times.
Restricted latissimus dorsi muscles limit the trunk from rotating freely. Here is a stretch to help improve the flexibility of these large trunk muscles, getting as much range as physically possible. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.
Stand tall with an elastic band looped around your wrists and your arms straight overhead and pulled slightly apart to create tension in the band. While keeping your trunk extended, maintain the tension in the band as you exhale and side bend at the pelvis. Hold this side bent position for three deep breaths before you return to the starting position. Repeat on both sides 2-3 times.
ON COURSE EXERCISE
Maintaining the mobility and flexibility you achieve at home prior to heading to the course is important since we all tend to tighten up after striking so many balls. Here is a practical exercise to use on the range, and at the sixth and the 12th holes.
Use a longer iron and slowly search the muscle tissue along the sides and back of your trunk, looking for tight knots or bands. Once you find one, gradually use the longer iron to massage out the knot. This could take 2-3 minutes before the muscle releases. Complete five passes up and down your back looking for these tighter bands or knots.
Rotate with the seasons
This article was originally published in the September 2015 edition of Golf Canada Magazine. To view the full magazine, click the image to the left.