The season can be long and frequently results in golfers dealing with low back pain. Back pain is often considered one of the most common reasons why recreational golfers leave the game and dealing with it can take years. The discs in our back can break down and “bulge”, this bulging of the disc can cause nerve impingement against the vertebrae and it results in back pain, muscle spasms and often times shooting pain/numbness into the leg. Often times it can be made worse by the repetitive bending and twisting motions we go through during the game. By keeping our spines flexible we can create a more healthy environment for our discs and also maintain a more flexible golf swing. I believe it is important to take a proactive approach to keeping our spines healthy. This month I wanted to share a very simple exercise all golfers should do (even if you do not have back pain) which helps the discs in our spine to stay healthy and help to reverse the damaging effects bending and twisting has on our backs.
This exercise has been used by Yoga enthusiasts and Physical Therapists for decades in treating patients with low back pain resulting from disc bulging. However, it should be used with caution if you already have a diagnosis of spinal stenosis or arthritis. If you have one of these two diagnoses please contact your doctor to see if it is safe for you.
Lie face down (prone) on the ground with your forearms and hands under your shoulders (see photo). Press yourself upward with your forearms, keeping your back relaxed and your pelvis on the ground (see photo). You should not have any pain in this position but you may feel some pressure in your low back. Hold this position for 3 min then lower yourself back down to the ground, relax for 1 min. If you have more questions please comment below.
Who isn’t trying to get a more shoulder turn??? I know I am and so are a lot of other golfers. One of the challenges is turning without changing your shoulder plane or spine angle. It is also challenging for a lot of players to create stability in the lower body during the backswing.
Separation in the golf swing is defined as the difference in rotation between your shoulders and hips during the back swing and through swing. Limited ability to create separation can make it impossible to turn the shoulders without moving the hips. This difference creates “coiling” and is one of the sources of power in your swing. Great ball strikers are able to create large amounts of separation or coiling during their swings. I like my golfers to be able to turn at least 80 degrees. Players who are limited in creating separation usually have certain swing flaws like loss of hip position and a flat shoulder plane. To test yourself sit on a chair with your knees together, with your palms touching and your elbows straight turn to the right as far as you can. People have a tendency to cheat by leaning back, try to keep a little forward lean. The pay offs can be really good for your golf swing in allowing you to be able to maintain better posture and spine angle. Therefore this months exercise is designed to help you improve separation during your fitness program.
Why am I only turning 45 degrees? Unfortunately, it is not an easy question to answer…. The restriction is the result of muscular tightness in the pecs, lats, hip flexors and glutes as well as joint mobility restrictions involving the rib cage and thoracic spine. Sounds complicated and it is but the good news is you can improve these issues with some simple exercises.
Sit on a physioball and hold your arms out to the side so they are parallel with the ground. With your knees wide for balance turn your body to the right slowly as far as you can then turn fully to the left. Try to keep your arms out to the side and do not let them start to go in front of your body or drop during the exercise. Perform 15-30 turns each way, you should feel your stomach working to turn your body during the exercise. If it is easy keep your knees and feet together. If your workouts are more advanced use this as a warm up prior to your normal workout.
Neck pain is a challenging injury for all golfers. It typically manifests itself either while carrying the bag or during the swing. Both can be problematic for your golf game. Most of my clients describe being unable to complete a swing while suffering from neck pain. Almost all non traumatic (pain not resulting from an injury, pain that just starts one day and your unsure why) is the result of poor posture and tight muscles
From a golf swing perspective a loss of neck mobility will impact your shoulder turn in both your backswing and through swing. Essentially you could flatten your shoulders plane or stand up during the swing to compensate for the loss of neck motion from neck pain. Both are bad but not as bad as being in pain so let’s stop talking about the why and get to the good stuff…..
Spikey balls are great for improving neck pain related to muscle tightness, there are a lot of different ways you can use them to help your neck. Today we are going to talk about one of those ways. You might be surprised to know that your head actually turns at the very top of your neck and there are quite a few little muscles dedicated to performing the simple turns and tilts of your head. With all the time we spend driving, watching TV and looking at electronic devices that part of our neck gets incredibly tight. Pretty soon the muscles are so tight that they are no longer able to perform their jobs and our necks no longer move properly. But hey guess what we still move our heads anyway, which means we are asking the lower part of our neck to do something it was not designed to do. Magically over time this turns into a statement like…”hey man, my neck hurts” as you set up on the tee. Your buddy gives you the look….”sure it does, you aren’t getting any strokes for that”
Grab a spikey ball and walk over to the wall, feel the back of your head, there is usually a point or ridge (the ridge runs horizontally) on the back of your head. Place the spikey ball just below it and hold it against the wall with just your head. Your shoulders should also be against the wall to avoid putting too much pressure on your head (see picture). Slowly turn your head right and left trying to keep the ball on the wall throughout the exercise. You should feel the spikey ball massaging the upper part of your neck and the back of your head. If you feel like you are going to drop the spikey ball, stop and reposition in. Perform 10-20 slow turns of your head. feel free to stop and hold over particularly sore spots and allow your muscle some time to relax.
This exercise will free up your neck and allow your head to turn better helping you to maintain better head position and shoulder plane throughout your swing. Have fun and play well!
If you do not have a spikey ball feel free to click on the link in the sidebar for my online store and order one today!
Low back pain is a major problem in golf. It can reek havoc on your golf swing and the amount of time you spend playing the game. I wanted to spend some time with this post to focus on a fun golf fitness exercise that will help you avoid low back pain by improving lower abdominal strength and pelvic mobility. There are quite a fee rehab exercises that help reduce low back pain once it has started that I will post soon, stay tuned!
Ok Ok let’s get to it! Pelvic mobility is really important to a good golf swing. Go into your DVR at home and pull up the last tournament. Watch the players set up over the ball and you will notice that most of them tuck or tilt their pelvis posteriorly (back or flatten) in their set up or at the start of the downswing. The best way to spot it is by watching them down the line and looking at their belt. It will tilt slightly horizontal when they tilt their pelvis, you will have to watch in slow motion. This does a couple of things that really improve ball striking. First, it engages the lower abdominal muscle group, which is hugely important for developing power and maintaining spine angle. Secondly, it creates space for your hands and arms to move through impact. If you are unable to tilt your pelvis posteriorly or flatten your belt line then it is going to be more difficult for you to turn your hip and maintain your spine angle as a result your hips may get closer to the ball which can cause a slide through the ball, standing up during the swing, an outside to in club path or all 3 swing flaws happening together.
“Woah!” “Slow down partner!” Two things you have every right to say at this point! The good news is that there are a lot of fun ways to improve lower ab strength as well as pelvic mobility. I thought I would share one that incorporates both elements to save you time in the gym. This is also a great exercise to do between sets of bigger lifts to save you time in the gym.
- Lie on your back (on a mat) with your knees bent, hold a golf club over your shoulders with your arms straight.
- Lift your knees up and try to bring them under the club. Think about tucking them under the club. The first time will be difficult but as you do more reps try to engage your lower abdominals by lifting your butt off of the ground. You will naturally cheat by lowering your arms toward your knees, stop doing that! Repeat this patter…knees up, knees down 15 to 30 times.
As you can see from the exercise your low back “rounds” during the exercise. What is happening is your lower abdominal muscles are pulling your pelvis backward or tilting it posteriorly, this effectively reverses the normal lordotic curve of your low back and “rounds” it out. The cool thing about this exercise is that you are tricking your body in to a posterior pelvic tilt and at the same time building a stronger core. If you want to reduce your chances of developing low back pain and improve your golf swing have fun with this exercise.
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The golf swing requires balance to keep your body in the proper position during your golf swing. Poor balance can contribute to loss of posture during your swing and poor contact. Balance is controlled by 3 parts of your body. Your eyes orient you to your environment during the golf swing. Your vestibular system keeps you from falling over while you are spinning during your golf swing. Your proprioceptive system is the network of muscles that keep you upright and send feedback to your brain on what the heck you are doing with your arms and legs during your golf swing! Sounds complicated, right! Well it is, but luckily you can improve your balance during the golf swing with a few simple exercise and why not work on it during your golf fitness workouts or what the heck how about when you are watching TV!
I saw this exercise on www.mytpi.com this morning as I was prepping for my day. It is a great one to help you develop better balance for the golf swing. Stand on one leg and keep the opposite thigh parallel to the ground while holding a medicine ball in your left hand. It is important to feel the contraction in your Glute (butt) muscle on the leg you are standing on. Slowly pass the ball overhead to your other hand, you will feel yourself get pulled off balance by the weight of the ball. Do your best to fight the urge to fall off balance. Do the exercise for 1 min then switch legs, if you can’t make it a min then pay attention to how long you can hold your balance and see if you can go longer each time you do the exercise. This is a great exercise to fill in between sets of heavier lifts like the bench press or on a leg day.
Have fun, play your best golf and please subscribe to my channel!
Do you know what an ITBand is?? No, it’s not a rock band! It is a giant tendon on the side of your thigh, which starts above your hip bone and ends below your knee. The official name for this tendon is the Illiotibial Band. Why do we care? Logical question! Well the reason we care is because it is a major contributor to sways and slides during the swing. Furthermore, it is hard to find a golfer who doesn’t deal with tightness in their ITBands. there are two main reasons why we as golfers develop tightness in the ITBand. The first is that as right handed golfers we shift into your left side during the down swing this creates a lot of pressure within the tendon and develops tightness within the ITband. The second is all of the walking we do during a round of golf.
So if you want to decrease your sway or slide in your golf swing dealing with this monster is a must! Fortunately it is easy to improve. Check out the video on my youtube channel MPowerPhysTherapy or click this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nm9RgcFUlMk&list=UU_4E_plGx6QepvIMLzTLu8Q
The first thing you will need is a foam roller. Place the foam roller on the ground and lie on top of it with the roller under the side of your thigh halfway between the hip and knee. Using your hands and top leg roll your thigh up and down the roller keeping the roller between your knee and hip. Be careful not to roll over your hip or knee joint to avoid injury. Perform exercise for 1 min per side. Remember to have fun!
Low back pain in golf plays a role in our ability to enjoy the game we love. The technical name for the “low back” is the lumbar spine region. During the golf swing it should be relatively stable in comparison to the “mid back” or thoracic spine and the hip joints. However, when we struggle with restricted shoulder turn and hip mobility a tremendous amount of pressure is placed on the lumbar spine region to move in a way that it was not designed to move. Often times this results in pain or loss of posture during the swing. This months exercise is great for improving the mobility of our rib cages which has a direct effect on improving shoulder turn. Thus, reducing the strain on our lumbar spine and improving health.
Place a foam roller on the ground, lie on your side over the roller with your rib cage in contact with the roll (if you have a choice start with a softer foam roll) as seen in the picture. Find a “sore” spot and hold your body in that position until the soreness starts to go away, usually 1-2 min. Then lift yourself up and move to a new spot, generally speaking most of us have a few “sore” spots along our rib cages. This exercise hurts a bit so be smart. If you experience sharp pain stop and try to find a softer roll or put a sweatshirt over the roller. If you have issues with loss of bone density consult your Physician before trying this exercise.