December 21 2013
By Sean Cochran, Special to PGATOUR.COM
Why it is Important: In order to create separation, rotate around an imaginary axis, and execute a proper backswing requires mobility from the upper body. The thoracic spine (area of spine located between the shoulder blades) and shoulder are the primary joints requiring large ranges of motion in order to execute the aforementioned requirements of the golf swing.
The Common Problem: Typically a golfer will be limited in terms of mobility in the thoracic spine and potentially the shoulder complex. Both of which will inhibit the ability of the golfer to perform the rotary components of the swing in an efficient manner. Such a situation will typically alter the mechanics of the swing and lead to compensatory patterns. The compensatory patterns resulting from physical dysfunctions will lead to the development of swing faults. Swing faults associated with limited upper body mobility are an over the top move in the downswing, a loss of posture, early extension, and a reverse spine angle.
The Solution: A golfer with upper body mobility limitations in the thoracic spine and shoulder should look to add a series of flexibility and range of motion exercises to improve soft tissue extensibility and joint mobility. The utilization of these types of exercises over time will improve flexibility and joint range of motion thus increasing one’s upper body mobility.
1. Openers – Thoracic Spine Mobility
• Position left hip in contact with the floor, knees bent at 90 degrees, left arm extended straight
• Place the right arm in contact with the left arm at shoulder height
• Slowly raise the right arm off the left and begin to rotate your right shoulder
• Continue to raise and rotate the right arm until it is on the right side of your body
• Rotate as far as possible with right arm, pause for 5 seconds, return to the starting position and repeat for 10 repetitions
• Repeat the exercise in the opposite direction
2. Posterior Shoulder Capsule Stretch – Shoulder Mobility
• Position the right hip in contact with the floor, legs straight, and the right upper arm perpendicular to the shoulder capsule
• Bend the right elbow to 90 degrees allowing the right upper arm to rest on the floor
• Grasp the right wrist with your left hand and slowly press the right forearm toward the floor
• Continue very slowly to press the forearm down until a stretch is felt in the right shoulder
• Hold this position for 30 seconds
• Discontinue the stretch if a pinch is felt in the top portion of the shoulder and do not allow the right shoulder to elevate or roll forward during the exercise
• Repeat the exercise with the opposite arm
About Sean Cochran, Golf Fitness Trainer: Sean Cochran, one of the most recognized golf fitness instructors in the world today. He travels the Tour regularly working with PGA Professionals, most notably three-time Masters, PGA, and British Open Champion Phil Mickelson. He has been involved in the production of numerous golf fitness videos and authored books including; Performance Golf Fitness, Golf Fitness Over Fifty, and Junior Golf Fitness. He has been a presenter of educational seminars for numerous organizations including the Titleist Performance Institute. To learn more about Sean Cochran Golf Fitness go to seancochran.com