Toe Touch and Spine Posture Stability

In the vast realm of fitness we try to stay as objective as possible to insure that fitness training for the golfer is efficient, safe, and effective. At FitGolf Performance Centers throughout the nation we periodically conduct research studies to determine how the body influences the golf swing.  One of our most eye openings studies to date examined the Toe Touch movement and how the inability to complete an adequate toe touch affects the golf swing.

The Toe Touch Test:

Before I continue I would like you to try the Toe Touch Test. Stand up with your feet together and knees straight. Now, try to touch your toes without your knees bending. Based off my experience I’ll venture to say that many of you cannot get to the toes without bending your knees. This is a problem for your golf game.

In our research study “Toe Touch and Spine Posture Stability”, we examined the implications of not being able to touch your toes on the golf swing. Based on golfer observations we predicted that not being able to touch your toes will create challenges with maintaining the spine angle through the golf swing. In our study we used the data from 100 golfers to try to prove our hypothesis. We asked each participant to perform the toe touch test. Following the test, we administered swing motion technology to assess their movement in the golf swing.

From the data collected with the motion technology we used the “forward bend” (spine angle) measurement at the address, the top of the swing, and at impact. From our data interpretation we determined that there was statistical significance to suggest that golfers that could touch their toes maintain a more stable posture than golfers who can’t touch their toes. The implication: you can be a more consistent golfer if you can touch your toes!

I’ll bet you this golfer can touch his toes!

The Toe Touch Fix:

So you can’t touch your toes. How do you fix it?

While hamstring inflexibility is a common reason as to why a golfer cannot touch their toes, it is not the only reason. In addition to hamstring flexibility, a lack of core strength and hip mobility are also barriers to touching your toes. The issue is that it is very difficult to self-assess which one of these 3 issues you have. If you believe you have one of these issues, you may want to consider asking a body expert to help resolve the issue(s).  If you choose not to deal with your physical issues you may continuously battle posture changes in the swing, a lack of consistency, a lack of power, and potentially worse issues like back pain and injuries.

Exercises For Improvement:

While I can’t tell you directly why you are not touching your toes, I am going to give you some safe exercises to address hamstring tightness, hip mobility, and core strength.

Hamstring Stretch on Door Frame:

Let’s first address hamstring tightness (and to some extent core strength). I would like you to find an open door frame and lay perpendicular to the right side of the frame. Now place your right heel onto the door frame. Both legs should be completely straight. At this time you should feel a stretch in your right hamstring. The closer you are to the door frame, the more stretch you will feel. Pick a distance from the frame in which you feel a moderate, not intense, stretch. Hold this stretch for 60 seconds. Now, keeping your left leg straight, brace your core and lift your left leg past your right leg. Perform 10 reps. After 10 reps, move slightly closer to the door and hold 60 more seconds. Repeat 2-4 times with the right leg up then switch to the left side.

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Double Knees to Chest:

Next we will address hip mobility with the Double Knees to Chest Stretch. This one is simple. Lie down on your back and bring both knees into your stomach or until you feel a stretch in the low back, glutes, or hamstrings. Hold the stretch until you feel the tension decrease.

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Glute Bridge:

For core work you will perform the Glute Bridge. The most common association we see with tight hamstrings is weak or inactive glutes. The Bridge exercise is a simple and effective way to activate and strengthen the glutes. To perform the Bridge lay down on your back. Bend your knees with your feet flat on the ground and position the feet about hip width apart. From here, contract your glutes and push your hips up into the air high enough so the body forms a straight line from the knees to the shoulders. You should feel this predominantly in the glutes. If you feel it more in the hamstrings, it’s an indication that your hamstrings are over-active. If you do feel it in the hamstrings, lift your toes and slightly arch your back before you push your hips up. This sends a reflex through the body that will help activate the glutes. Perform 2-3 sets of 10 reps and hold each rep 3-5 seconds.

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Toe Touch Toes Up/Heels Up:

For the final exercise you are actually going to practice the toe touch movement. What most do not realize is that there is actually a proper method to touch the toes from the standing position. For some individuals, improper mechanics or poor “motor control” is the sole reason as to why they cannot touch the toes. To practice the toe touch, find something around the house you can place on the floor that has the ability to lift your toes 3-5 inches off the floor (2×4, stack of towels, a book, etc). You will also need a soft object to squeeze in between your knees (nerf ball, towels, pillow, etc). Place your toes up on the floor object, keep your heels down on the floor, and place your feet together. Squeeze the soft object between your knees and push your hips (hinge your hips) backwards so your weight shifts all the way to the heels and your upper body bends forward. Maintain the tight squeeze (this helps relax the hamstrings) and try to touch your toes without bending your knees. If you can’t get to the toes, allow the knees to bend until you can get to the toes, just keep focusing on keeping your hips back and your pressure through the heels. Repeat the motion 6-8 times then do the same thing with the heels up on the floor object for another 6-8 reps. Re-assess your touch touch with flat feet once you have completed the reps. Notice a change?

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Perform these 4 exercises daily for 2-3 weeks and re-assess your toe touch. You should feel less tension in the hamstrings and more mobility in getting to the toes. If so, you should be able to achieve more stable posture in the golf swing and see more consistent ball flight.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask by emailing me at [email protected] or by commenting in the comment section below.

Jason Rivkin

Golf Fitness Coach, FitGolf Performance Centers

TPI Certified

 

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