Golf Fitness: Add Mobility To Improve Your Swing
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Golf Fitness: Add Mobility To Improve Your Swing

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Golf Fitness: Add Mobility To Improve Your Swing
upper body mobility for golfers
Photo credit: The Doctors of Physical Therapy

Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland, John Rahm, Max Homa, Matt Fitzpatrick … the list goes on. All are world-class golfers who share a similar trait besides their otherworldly golfing skill. That trait? Mobility. Tour players are taking their physical fitness more seriously than ever before in an attempt to gain speed and distance.

It is no secret that improving your mobility can lead to more powerful swings which equate to increased distance and speed through a longer backswing and more efficient swing sequencing. The question is, how do we unlock the ability to allow our bodies to move through greater range of motion? In this article, I’ll give you mobility exercises you can add to your daily routine to work towards creating a more effective golf swing. 

What is mobility?

Photo credit: Arizona Orthopedic Physical Therapy

We need to start with an understanding of what mobility means. Mobility is defined as “the ability to move or be moved freely and easily.” At a young age, all of us were naturally very mobile. Think of a young child who is able to stick their foot in their mouth. They have extremely mobile hips and excellent flexibility to do so. Sadly, our society is geared towards reducing our ability to move through daily activity without us even realizing it. Sitting at a desk all day leads to our hip flexors being in a shortened position. In turn, that leads to reduced flexibility in the hips which impacts the hamstrings and so on down the kinetic chain. Without adequate mobility, we limit our ability to create separation in the swing between our pelvis and torso, leaving distance and power on the table. 

Fortunately, we can fight this pattern of inflexibility with mobility training. When you think of the best in the world swinging a golf club, what do you see? For me, it is Rory’s ability to separate his upper body from his lower body throughout his swing through fantastic mobility through his hips and spine. This is an aspect that helps him to consistently rank at or near the top in terms of total driving distance on Tour. 

Mobility training not only improves our flexibility but will also help reduce risk of injury through the golf swing. The bottom line: Mobility training can lead to an improvement in golf performance when performed correctly.

Brief Anatomical Overview

Golf fitness Exercises

The exercises in this article will focus on a few key areas to help us improve and unlock our mobility in the golf swing. Those are:

  • Lumbar spine
  • Thoracic spine
  • Hips

The lumbar spine is composed of the L1-L5 vertebrae and makes up the lower part of our spinal column. Located in our lower back, these vertebrae protect the spinal cord and allow for the dispersion of axial forces on the body.

The thoracic spine is in the middle to upper part of our back, comprising 12 vertebrae (T1-T12). The primary role of the thoracic spine is to support your chest and abdomen by stabilizing the ribcage. Many overuse injuries in golf can be traced to poor thoracic spine mobility.

The hip, a ball-and-socket joint, acts as a multi-axial joint upon which the upper body balances while standing and moving. The forces we encounter and movements we make are supported by the hip joint through the balance and stability it provides.

The Exercises

Golf fitness Exercises

We’ve addressed the areas of the body we will focus on for this article. Now it’s time to get into the movements we will perform to address our mobility. Each exercise will work to target one of the above areas. 

Perform each exercise one time for the specific amount of repetitions then move on to the next. You can complete one to three rounds of this routine, depending on the amount of time you have. You should be able to complete this routine in as little as 10 minutes if performing only one round. Lastly, you can perform these exercises daily if you’d like but try to perform them at least twice per week. 

  • Cat/Cows
  • Child’s Pose w/Lat. Prayer Stretch
  • Side Lying Windmill
  • Kneeling Thoracic Spine Extension
  • Thoracic Spine Reach Through + Rotation
  • Half Kneeling Thoracic Spine Rotation + Tilt
  • Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Rock with Reach

Exercise Execution

Cat/Cows – Five repetitions each

  • Set up on the floor with your hands under shoulders and knees under hips with a neutral spine
  • Pick your chest up and press your belly button towards the floor to execute the cow position. Hold briefly, then transition to cow by rounding your shoulders and tucking your chin towards your chest. Repeat.

Child’s Pose with Lat. Prayer Stretch – 30-second holds

  • Set up on the floor with hands slightly in front of shoulders and knees under hips. Inhale deeply and exhale while pushing hips towards heels. Allow head to drop between the shoulders.
  • Walk hands to the right until a stretch is felt through the left side; hold for 30 seconds. Walk hands back to starting position, then to the left, and repeat 30-second hold.

Side Lying Windmill – 10 repetitions per side

  • Set up on the floor with your left side down, making a straight line from head to hee, with arms extended from the shoulders and palms facing. Bend the right knee to 90 degrees and use a foam roller, yoga block, etc., to support it.
  • Reach right arm forward until left fingertips touch the palm and sweep the arm overhead until reaching a “T” position. Reset and repeat.

Kneeling Thoracic Spine Extension – 10 repetitions

  • You’ll need a bench and PVC pipe, broom handle, etc., for this exercise.
  • Set up kneeling on the ground with elbows resting on the bench and choice of equipment in hand, palms facing up.
  • Press hips back and down towards the heels and head between shoulders. Maintain a flat back and long spine.
  • If able, bend arms at the elbows as if performing a biceps curl and hold for three to five seconds. Reset and repeat.

Thoracic Spine Reach Through + Rotation – 10 repetitions per side

  • Set up on the floor with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Maintain a long spine and rock hips back slightly.
  • Reach your right arm under your left. Reset and place right hand behind head. Lift elbow towards the ceiling while allowing the chest to rotate. Reset and repeat.

Half Kneeling Thoracic Spine Rotation + Tilt – 10 repetitions per side

  • Set up in a half kneeling position with hands interlocked behind the head. Rotate over the “up” leg, pause and drop elbow towards your back pocket. Reset and repeat.

Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Rock + Reach – 10 repetitions per side

  • Set up in a half kneeling position with hand on the hip of the “down” leg and opposite arm with hand at shoulder. Press hips forward while reaching overhead. To increase stretch, add a tilt towards the “up” leg side. Pause for two seconds, reset and repeat.

Why Mobility Matters

Ask any golfer if their game would benefit from more distance. Odds are they’d answer yes, especially with the looming ball rollback in 2030. While improving your mobility won’t exclusively guarantee you add distance on the course (we recommend a sound training regimen), it will be a step in the right direction towards that goal. As another added benefit, you’ll feel physically better day in and day out.

Adding mobility exercises to your routine is simple as it requires little equipment and an open space. The next time you hit the gym or workout at home, give these exercises a try and get on your way to increase clubhead speed and out-driving your buddies on the course! 

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      Zack

      3 months ago

      Great content! Will give it a try. Also been doing the GolfForever program for a few months and its been game changing. Didn’t really appreciate how my lack of mobility and flexibility around the edges was really what was causing most of my swing faults. Can’t recommend highly enough.

      Reply

      MattWillGolf

      5 months ago

      Great article. It’s validating as I incorporate much of this in my regular routine but I am happy to some new exercises to try.

      Reply

      Preeway

      5 months ago

      Great article for someone like trying to get back into better golf shape!

      Reply

      johngschulz

      5 months ago

      Hey hey! This is the kind of routine I’m looking to add to my day. I’ve been struggling with mobility issues since my mid 20s when I was diagnosed with arthritis. I am treating this with medication but I am trying to take my strength training and stretching more seriously this year, especially in my lower back and hips. Great article and demonstrations!

      Reply

      cksurfdude

      5 months ago

      Love it, thank you!!! Will be incorporating the new to me moves into my somewhat regular yoga / stretching routine.

      One thing, though – I think the vid and instructions for “Lumbar Windshield Wipers” is missing…?

      Thx

      Reply

      MarkM

      5 months ago

      Great article! I know my mobility needs work, I will check these out today and see how bad it really is!!

      Reply

      Connor B

      5 months ago

      Great article with lots of helpful information and exercises. I hope to incorporate them into my routine and use them to improve my mobility and golf game!

      Reply

      Mike

      5 months ago

      Excellent! At 66 mobility matters for a lot more than golf! But these targeted drills will certainly help the golf swing.

      Reply

      jbern

      5 months ago

      Great article and it’s nice to have the videos explaining/showing the mobility exercises. Sitting at a desk all day for work has definitely reduced my mobility and it’s nice that a lot of these mobility moves I could do at my cubicle.

      Reply

      ROB PERSON

      5 months ago

      Great article, and a well thought out approach to moving the joints and muscles. Not JUST for golf, but for general fitness as well.
      Liked the video portions too. Nice touch!

      Reply

      Josh P.

      5 months ago

      Great read and something I have been working on a lot lately!

      Reply

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    Drivers
    Jun 11, 2024
    Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Ti 340 Mini Driver
    Putters
    Jun 11, 2024
    Triple Black Evnroll 38 Tour Spec Putters
    FootJoy limited FootJoy limited
    First Look
    Jun 11, 2024
    JUST DROPPED: FootJoy Red Clay Premiere Series