Getting a full shoulder turn is one of the essential ingredients to hitting the golf ball a long way. The design of the human spine ideally allows golfers to rotate the most from the middle (thoracic) spine. However, if the middle spine is overly bent forward or to the side at address, then it can’t rotate properly during either the backswing or follow-through (see pictures #1: rounded posture at address, #2: side bent posture at address, and #3: proper posture at address). Golfers, therefore, with poor address posture will have restricted shoulder turns and difficulty achieving maximum distance in their shots.
The reason that so many golfers have difficulty achieving a proper spine posture at address and full rotational flexibility in their shoulder turn is because of tightness in their chest and spine. Inflexibility in the muscles of the chest and around the spine causes the middle spine to bend forward and/or to the side beyond it’s potential to fully rotate. To help achieve proper posture at address and then to achieve a full shoulder turn for maximum length, here are three stretching exercises that promote a straighter posture at address and improved rotational flexibility in your spine.
Chest and Shoulder Stretch
Begin this stretch by lying on the floor with your feet resting over a chair so your hips and knees are comfortably bent to 90 degrees. Place a small towel roll (1-2 inches in diameter) horizontally across your middle back about shoulder blade level. Place your arms out to your side about 60-80 degrees and bend your elbows to 90 degrees (see picture #4). From this position, allow your chest, shoulders and middle spine to relax until you feel like all the tightness has released (3-5 minutes).
Begin this stretch by lying on your left side over a rolled up pillow. Reach your right arm overhead and straighten your right leg while supporting your head with your left arm and bending your left hip and knee (see picture #5). Hold this stretch for 3-5 minutes or until you experience a complete release of any tightness in your right side. Then, slowly come out of this stretch and repeat on the other side.
Spine Rotation Stretch
Start this stretch on your back with your hips and knees bent and your feet rested on the floor. Reach your arms out to the sides (60-80 degrees) and bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Keeping your knees together, allow both legs to slowly rotate to your left until you feel a comfortable stretch in your right hip and spine (see picture #6). Hold this position until you feel a complete release of the stretch feeling (3-5 minutes) and then repeat the stretch in the other direction.
Remember to check with your physician before performing these exercises and stop immediately to contact your physician should you feel any discomfort during or after performing any exercises.
If you would like more information about this subject, have other questions related to golf health and fitness training or are interested in locating an officially licensed Body Balance for Performance center near you, please call: 1-888-FIT-GOLF (348- 4653) or refer to our web page at www.fitgolf.com