This week during the Buick Invitational, one of the television golf analysts evaluated Tigers swing, specifically mentioning his ability to control his spine angle at address. The analyst continued by describing how Tigers spine angle tilts slightly to the right at impact but for most of the dynamic phase of the golf swing Tigers spine angle is consistent.
For many amateurs this a challenge. An inconsistent spine angle causes many issues but primarily this inability creates the swing flaw known as a Reverse spine angle.
We define this condition as when the upper body bends backwards or bends laterally during the backswing phase of the swing sequence. When my students come to Scottsdale to work with me, I evaluate them physically as well as their swing mechanics with their PGA professional. (If you are interested in our pro evaluating your swing and putting you on a golf specific fitness program send me an e-mail and we will get your program started). I can usually predict an incidence of low back pain simply by identifying a reverse pivot in their video swing analysis.
Here are a few physical fixes for the reverse spine angle:
1. Work on increasing flexibility in the trunk, allowing the shoulders to rotate separately from the hips and increasing rotation in the lower body. Gaining more flexibility in these areas eliminates lateral or side bending.
2. The ability to turn your hips, specifically the right internal hip rotation (for right handed golfers) is critical in fixing a reverse spine angle.
3. Lastly, building the core strength to support your spine angle and reduce the risk of lumbar spine injury is advantageous.
If you are one of the lucky golfers who does not have a reverse spine angle I suggest you incorporate these yoga postures into your regular fitness routine. These poses will enhance your ability to turn, maintain a consistent spine angle and strengthen the core!
Lets get started!
Supine spinal twist with yoga blocks:
Place the arms perpendicular to the body, heels next to the buttocks and right leg crossed over left. Maintain a connection of the shoulders with the floor. Inhale and allow the legs to fall to the left. Exhale and bring the legs back to the starting position. Repeat this dynamic twist ten times and then hold for one minute. Switch sides and repeat.
TIP: Use the yoga blocks under the knees if your knees do not touch the floor.
Revolving side angle pose:
Place the left leg forward with the knee placed directly over the ankle. Pull the navel towards the spine and bring the right arm to the outside of the left knee. Bring the right elbow to the outside of the left knee. Inhale deeply, pull the navel towards the spine, bring the palms together and lift out of the right shoulder. Focus on the stretch in the lats. Hold for five to ten breaths and switch sides.
TIP: Maintain distance between your right ear and right shoulder.
Quad / hip flexor stretch:
The Sanskrit (the language of yoga) this pose is called Virasana, meaning Hero pose. This is a very deep stretch for the hip flexors and quads.
TIP: Pay close attention to protecting the knees by placing a rolled up towel behind the knees and yoga blocks and towels under the buttocks. Additionally focus on tucking the pelvis under, internally rotating the pelvis so the stretch is in the hips and not a strain on the lumbar spine. Additionally this is a stretch for the top of the foot and ankle.
With the knees together sit back onto your yoga blocks or towels. With the support of your hands placed behind your back slightly lift the hips off the blocks, tuck the pelvis under and hold for three breaths. Repeat three to five repetitions.
Love this stretch for the adductors, inner thighs!
TIP: If your knees are sensitive, place an extra towel under your knees.
Separate the knees as wide as possible, pull the navel towards the spine to protect the lumbar spine and bring the elbows down to the towels or floor. Relax the neck and hold for ten breaths.
Breathe deeply in the pose, focus on allowing your body to sink deeper in the pose with each exhalation.
Yoga/ Pilates core strengthener with Golf Gym Balance ball:
Place the yoga block between the legs, the Golf Gym Balance ball between the hands, slightly above shoulder height. Squeeze the block and ball, retracting the shoulder, eyes focus just above the ball. Inhale, pull the navel towards the spine and articulate the upper body towards the floor. Focus on tucking the ribcage towards the hip bone. On the exhalation, roll back to the starting position. Repeat twenty times.
TIP: If you feel any strain in your neck, slightly tuck your chin towards the chest.
See you Monday nights on The Turn!