By Shayne Cleary
PT, DPT, MTC
IMPACT Physical Therapy- South Loop
One question I receive from many of my clients or golf friends is how can I improve the mobility in my golf swing. Most golfers tend to feel as though they either get “stuck” in their back swing or can’t fully follow through with power during their finish. One of the main culprits of being “stuck” or losing that ability to follow through is decreased thoracic spine mobility. So, what is the thoracic spine and why is it important when talking about improving a golfer’s game?
What is Thoracic Spine Mobility?
The thoracic spine makes up the middle portion of the spine consisting of 12 vertebrae, it is responsible for most of our spinal rotation. The ribs as well as various muscles attach to the thoracic spine providing stability for our back. Having good thoracic spine mobility is a huge component for success when it comes to having proper mobility with one’s golf swing. Unfortunately, because we sit a lot during our daily lives, i.e. work, driving, eating, etc., our thoracic spine tends to be very stiff or immobile. It is imperative we have proper mobility in our mid-back in order to allow us to properly turn and follow through. Having proper mobility in our t-spine will help to create the coil effect for improved power and help to prevent compensation especially from our low back which can lead to injury.
Have you noticed half-way through the round your low back is starting to ache? One of the reasons this may be occurring is because of the lack of mobility in the thoracic spine. Even if you are not a golf fanatic, it is very evident the golf swing requires a lot of repeated rotation. This repeated rotation can put a great amount of stress on the low back as well as the neck, shoulders and hips, if the thoracic spine is stiff. Our body will always find a way to get the job done, so if you are not able to turn through your thoracic spine, other areas in our body, in particular our low back will start to do more of the work. So how do we fix this?
How to Improve Thoracic Mobility
Below are 3 thoracic spine mobility exercises that are simple and easy to perform. Not only will these exercises help to improve your mobility, you will notice a difference in power and distance. I suggest to my clients to perform these exercises daily as well as prior to teeing up on the first tee. Perform each exercise 10 times for 2 sets; make sure to perform them slowly and hold the end of the movement for about five seconds.
Of course, the thoracic spine is not the only culprit for tightness/stiffness in the golf swing. The hips play a significant role as well. Stay tuned for more info on how and why to improve hip mobility.