The top of the backswing is a complicated series of biomechanical movements and requires a significant amount of rotation or turn between the shoulders and hips. A steeper or more upright plane in the golf swing can cause stress because the upper body twists in a vertical plane while the lower spine twists in a more horizontal plane. This generates significant power but can also cause injury. Referred to as the 'X-factor', this relationship between the upper and lower body rotation has been shown to increase your distance.
This week we will focus on flexibility and strength conditioning in the hands and wrists, shoulders, abdominal muscles, back muscles and hips will support a consistent swing plane and increase club head speed and power.
Increases flexibility in the upper shoulders
Begin on all fours and place your hands at the top of the yoga mat. Spread the fingers as wide as possible while you keep your entire palm on the floor. Specifically, press the base of your forefinger into the floor. Roll the shoulders away from the ears (do not scrunch in the shoulders). Maintain this action in the shoulders as you begin to walk your knees towards the back of the mat. Bring the gluts towards the heels as you relax the neck. Hold for a slow count of ten and remember to breathe.
Increases shoulder rotation
Begin on all fours, place hands slightly in front of the shoulders. Slide the left arm under the right, bringing the left shoulder as close to the floor as possible. Move slowly so you can gently progress into this pose. If possible place the left shoulder on the floor and completely relax the neck. Hold for a slow count of five to ten. Switch sides and repeat three times.
Increases shoulder rotation
This pose can be done with the golf cart or against a door frame. Place the hands slightly lower than shoulder height. Bend the knees, draw the navel inward and slightly engage the abdominal muscles. Pull against the cart, creating resistance in the shoulders. Hold for a count of ten and switch sides.
Erector spine muscles assist in rotating the trunk
Begin on all fours and draw the navel towards the spine. Do not let the low back arch as you maintain a strong back. Engage the right glut as you lift the leg, keeping the hip towards the floor. Focus on the core as you lift the left arm. Relax the neck and hold for a count of five. Switch sides and repeat two times.
Abdominals support trunk rotation
Bend the knees, keeping the feet flat on the floor. Squeeze a towel between the inner thighs and draw the navel towards the spine. Cross the arms over the chest or extend the arms out. Lower the upper body until you feel the work in the abdominals. Breathe deeply and hold until muscle fatigue. Repeat three times. Note: You should not feel any pain in the low back. Stop immediately if you feel discomfort and lower the upper body to the floor. Modify by doing crunches as discussed in last week's article.
Hips support a more stable base
On your back place the right foot on the outside of the left knee. Take a towel behind the hamstring and pull the leg towards you. Hold for a count of five and switch sides. Relax the neck. Note: if you have a hyper-extended neck, place a towel under your head.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.