Four Weeks to a Strong Back - Week 4

By Katherine RobertsMay 28, 2004, 4:00 pm
This week the back series focuses on twisting poses. When the body moves in a twisting or rotational position it benefits the spine, hips and shoulders, breathing capacity and visceral system. Your range of motion will increase supporting the 45-degree hip angle and the 90-degree shoulder turn angle at the top of the back swing, provide better posture and more a consistent repeatable swing path. Endurance increases and almost instantly the muscles become more pliable alleviating back pain. When you are pain free your body moves with effortlessly and you hit the ball without fear of impending pain. Effortless power!
As always begin with the warm up sequence from week one. On all these poses center your attention on the following:
  • Core stabilization ' pull the abs in to stabilize the spine.

  • Posture ' lengthen the spine, sitting up as tall as possible.

  • Inhale as you lengthen the spine, exhale and deeper into the stretch.

  • When coming out of the pose move very slowly.

Here we go!
Seated Twist in chair:

Seated Twist in chair

Sit up as straight as possible on the edge of a chair, pull the navel towards the spine, lifting the ribcage, exhale and twist. Slightly release the pose but not fully, inhale and repeat. Do this twist five times on the right and then switch sides. Note: this is a great pose to do in the office or when you travel. If you see me on an airplane I can assure you I am doing this pose!
Eagle Twist:

Dynamic Twist

On your back, place your arms perpendicular to the body, palms facing up, and knees close to the gluts. Cross the right leg over the left. Inhale, bringing legs slightly to the left, hold for a count of five and exhale as you move deeper into the pose. Hold that position and repeat. Move deeper into the pose with each exhalation. After five repetitions, switch sides.
Seated Twist:

Seated Twist

Sitting up as tall as possible, cross the right leg over the straight left leg, right foot remains flat on the floor. Place the right hand up against the gluts as additional support for a straight spine. Inhale, sitting up as tall as possible, bringing the left arm on the outside of the right knee. Exhale and increase the twist. Repeat five times and switch sides.
Alligator Twist:

Alligator Twist

On your back, arms perpendicular to the body, legs straight. Bring the left foot to the right knee.
Alligator Twist

Inhale and twist to the right, exhale and let your body move deeper into the pose. Keep the right shoulder on the floor. Hold for a slow count of five and switch sides.
Post-Round Twist:

Post-Round Twist

Studies prove that it is extremely effective to stretch at night before going to sleep because the body has the most opportunity for healing during sleep. This pose should be done at night.
On your back bring the arms perpendicular to the body. Heels come to the gluts and then allow the legs to fall to the left. Place towels under the knees as shown to protect the low back if the knees do not touch the floor. Keep the right shoulder on the floor. Hold for a few minutes and slowly switch sides.
Always finish any twisting series of poses with a counter pose. Bring the knees into chest as in the warm up sequence.
Print out the four week Total Back Series and do the exercises a minimum of three days a week. By the end of the month I will have be offering the Total Golfers Back Book for traveling and The Total Golfers Back Conditioning Program available on DVD on my website @ Stay in touchI want to hear how you are progressing.
Coming up, we will work the most important golf fitness component of all ' the mind!
Katherine Roberts is the author of Yoga for Golfers (McGraw-Hill, June 2004) and can be seen every Monday night on Your Game Night on The Golf Channel.
Related Links:
  • Four Weeks to a Strong Back - Week 1
  • Four Weeks to a Strong Back - Week 2
  • Four Weeks to a Strong Back - Week 3
  • Katherine Roberts Article Archive
  • Health & Fitness Main Page
    Editor's Note: Katherine Roberts, founder of Yoga for Golfers, has 20 years of experience in fitness training, yoga studies, professional coaching and motivation. Katherine welcomes your email questions and comments, contact her at
  • Getty Images

    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

    Getty Images

    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

    Getty Images

    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

    Getty Images

    McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

    Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

    Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

    The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

    McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.