The sun is out, the birds are chirping and golf is in full swing (pun intended). As you prepare to get out on the driving range or golf course, its a great time to reflect on the importance of thoracic spine (T-Spine) mobility and how it affects your golf swing and your health.
What is the thoracic spine? The thoracic spine, put as easily as possible, is the part of your spine that starts at the base of the neck and runs down to the bottom of your rib cage. The thoracic spine plays a huge role in flexion, extension, and side bending of the trunk, which are all necessary in golf.
When swinging a golf club, you want to have good hip rotation and be pain free. A golf swing is a very complicated movement, as you are shifting through the three planes of motion from the start of the swing to the finish. The difficulty of this motion often leads to small injuries, which may go unchecked because many of us simply “play through” these annoyances. Let’s admit it, though, golf is a lot more fun when you have no pain at all.
The most common problem golfers complain of is lower back pain (followed closely by shoulder pain). Lower back pain while golfing can be caused by inefficient movement patterns, tight hip flexors, previous injuries, overuse, etc. If none of these seem to be the mechanism causing your pain, then you most likely have an immobile T-Spine. When performing a golf swing, as mentioned, you need good hip rotation. In a healthy swing, your hip rotation comes from your T-Spine being mobile. If your T-Spine is not mobile, the hip rotation has to come from somewhere so your body will compensate. Compensation for an immobile T-Spine comes directly from your lumbar spine (lower back).
Why is creating thoracic mobility important? First and foremost, to prevent injury to and overuse of the lower back or hips. Second, to improve your game; your thoracic spine must be mobile in order to get the most out of your swing, from accuracy to club head speed. Creating a mobile T-spine allows for a more efficient golf swing, which will lead to better ball striking, which leads to better rounds. Best of all, you remain healthy and have no compensatory movements.
Kick off this golf season by making time to see a fitness professional who can diagnose your movement patterns, give your corrective exercises if needed, and set you on a path to a successful spring, summer, and fall playing the sport you love.
This article was written by Blake Gould
More articles by Blake Gould