With the Ryder Cup at Le Gold National being such a roaring success, we thought we’d do a post on the anatomy of the golf swing and offer some simple exercises to help reduce the risk of those annoying niggly injuries that can often keep you off the course.
Breaking down the movement
The golf swing is a complex process that involves the whole body working together in unison. This allows for an efficient movement to create necessary torque for good clubhead speed and essentially a longer more accurate drive.
The main movement associated with the golf swing is rotation. So if we target particular areas of the body where we can improve rotation we can impact the mechanics of your swing. Simple hey? Maybe not as simple as it sounds but by targeting the Thoracic Spine (mid-back) and Hips we can make fundamental changes to your swing. These two areas of the body are hugely important in creating power or ‘torque’ in the swing which directly impacts clubhead speed, leading to a long drive.
The Thoracic Spine:
The 12 segments of the thoracic spine make up the mid-back. This is commonly stiff amongst the desk warriors out there due to prolonged sitting and often poor posture. So when you get to the range or that early tee time on a Saturday morning after nailing a 40-50 week sat in front of your computer/laptop its no wonder you can be exposed to some common injuries. Golfer’s tend to experience low back pain which can be directly associated with stiffness in the Thoracic Spine. The Lumbar Spine (lower back) is not made to rotate and achieves a minuscule 10 degrees of rotation at the best of times, so if your Thoracic Spine is stiff and loses the ability to fully rotate you can understand why you can increase the load on the Lumbar Spine. As we have previously discussed on other posts, the Thoracic Spine should be kept mobile to prevent back pain in everyday life, but if golf is your hobby it becomes even more crucial!
Strength and mobility in the hips are vital for a good golf swing. Hip mobility is important in the back swing to allow the upper body to rotate fully to wind up in preparation to transfer energy to the upper limb. Many people tend to try and gain power from their arms and shoulders, however, it is the hips rotating through the swing that generates the power. This wind-up phase builds kinetic (movement) energy that is then transferred from the lower limb into the upper limb throughout the different phases of the swing.
Here are some simple exercises that you can try to increase mobility and strength to improve your swing and reduce injury risk:
- Side Plank – 3 sets of 30 seconds each side.
- Adductor Knee Rolling – Squeeze a foam roller or cushion between your knees, keep core squeezed and roll your knees side to side in a controlled manor.
- SL Glute bridge – Bend knees to 90 degrees, straighten one out and push your hips up through planted leg. Ensure you squeeze your glutes.
- Thoracic Rainbows – Lying on your side, arms straightened out in front, extend top arm above your head in an arc touching the floor the whole time.
- Bow stretch – lying on your side, arms straightened out in front, pull top arm towards body squeezing shoulder blade and extend out to other side
Hopefully, you now have a little more insight into some of the anatomy of the golf swing. Try to build the exercises into your warm-up or on recovery days to help bulletproof against some of the common golf-related injuries.
For more advice/guidance come and see one of our experienced Physiotherapists for a detailed examination. Use the booking link below.