spinal rotation memphis

April 28, 2017

Working with our clients at Energy Fitness over the years our personal trainers discover how limited most of the population is in spinal flexibility once we get them moving and doing functional and balance exercises. Your thoracic spine is the middle section of your vertebra between your neck and lower back and composes 12 thoracic vertebra and your rib cage.

Modern lifestyles and certain sports can lead to stiffness and poor movement which increases the natural “kyphosis” (rounding curve in upper back as shown in picture to the left) of the thoracic spine which can lead to decreased sporting performance, injury, and pain.

One new area that is becoming more researched, and is linked to thoracic spine stiffness, is changes to breathing.  Normal breathing requires the ribs to move like a bucket handle (they lift to the sides). The stiffer the rib joints are where they join at the spine means less movement can occur at this joint and this can make it more difficult to take a breath when higher breathing rates and breath volumes are required, meaning potentially less air breathed.

In part 1 of Spinal Rotation for Golf & Life blog post we showed you how to test your upper spine flexibility (your thoracic spine) by trying to rotate the spine and not move the hips. We gave you a few exercises to help improve range of motion.

In this blog post we show you examples of poor upper spine flexibility as it relates to the golf swing as well as a lunge with a twist that also helps improve balance and give you 2 great stretches.

Try the exercise below. Lunge! Once you have lowered yourself as far as your hip flexibility and balance can take you twist your body left as pictured rotating your spine completely.You may find that you need to use a faster speed to get into position to get that extra stretch. Now repeat on the other side by bringing the back leg (right leg) forward into the lunge position and twist to the right.

The client below performed the lunge twist first for about 8-10 reps in each direction before we moved to putting a golf club in his hand. (See video at the bottom of this post).

My analysis: his follow at the top of the golf swing has room for improvement in flexibility of the upper spine. 
 

 

 

 

 

Now look at the pic below. See how once the back leg is behind the buttock the body is forced to rotate in the upper spine. This client struggles to rotate and it looks as he feels he’s going to fall over? He benefits from balance and spinal rotation exercises.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, I’m going to throw myself under the bus and analyze my form in a left handed golf swing and right handed (as I can do both and need to just pick a side already!).

 

 

 

 

 

Left Handed Golf Swing Analysis: smallest picture on left is during a lesson with golf pro instructor Doug Barron in Memphis, TN.

1st pic: Rotation is great looking at my right shoulder lined up with my left foot “at the top”

2nd pic: Two weeks later (pic in the middle) I’m back to my bad habit of taking the club back too far & being more upright to try and compensate for my lack of upper body spinal flexibility. (I tend to do this weird thing with my wrists.  I know that my foot is not lined up with the ball correctly in case you observed that as well.)

3rd pic: my follow through is terrible as you can see, my left foot doesn’t rotate because I didn’t rotate my hips or keep my weight on my front leg heel.

Right Handed Golf Swing Analysis: For kicks on the last hole, 2 weeks after the golf lesson with Doug, I borrowed a friend’s right handed golf club and hit a few balls right-handed.  I took 2 shots and killed it with a straight line drive.

4th pic from left: Rotation good “at the top” as left shoulder lined up with right foot.

5th pic-last pic (far right): Observe the terrible follow through with the back foot not getting up on the toe just like the left handed golf swing. This was a 150 yard shot!

Here are 2 stretches for you to improve upper spine flexibility! Chair stretch and triangle pose stretch. Hold each direction for 30-60 seconds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go be fit to break par, breathe stress free & improve daily activities.

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April 21, 2017

How often do you perform exercises in a twisting motion? Let’s take it a step further… how many do you perform without rotating at the hips? Without rotating my hips…huh? Often times I see clients, as well as myself, doing an exercise and letting the hips open to avoid working on the flexibility of the upper spine.

Test yourself…. Stand up with your feet shoulder width apart and place your hands on your hips. Now try to rotate through your lower back without allowing your hips to move. Not as easy as you thought it would be, huh?

If you don’t have the best posture rotating the spine correctly can be challenging.

Think about your lifestyle and exercise routine if you have one. Do you rotate your spine during a strength training session, during sports play, stretching routine or a cardio session? If you run, cycle, walk, jump rope, run stairs, do machines such as elliptical or row machine you are using your body in only one plane (frontal).  You may be creating weakness in muscles and tightening others by avoiding moving your body in different directions.

The 2 exercises are below as pictures & video. They will help you increase spinal flexibility. Make sure to prevent any motion in your hips and lower back.

Towel Low to high Notice I put my knees in to avoid rotating hips. You can see I lack upper body rotational flexibility and need to work on. Try 10 reps each direction. The stability ball is a great way to see improvement as it also works on weight shifting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Low to High Chop/Twist (use either towel or if more advanced use medicine ball or cable as pictured left). If it is too hard to stabilize your hips then widen your stance a bit and/or lower the weight.

 

 

Outer Thigh presses /Hip Abduction Working the abductors is helpful to help keep the hips open and strong.

Try a moderate resistance band and do 2 – 4 sets of 50 reps. Make it more challenging by not sitting and be more in a squat position so the quads (front of the upper thighs) can feel the added burn. This exercise is great as it adds that lateral component and can make your golf swing more powerful and runners can feel their hips more open leading to a more efficient running gait. I always have a great run the day after walking 9 holes of golf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How often should I do these exercises? 

2-3 times per week

See if you notice a difference in your golf swing on on the back swing and follow through. How many of the exercises or sports below can you add to your lifestyle or routine that require some degree of spinal rotation?

  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Tennis
  • Soccer (with the lateral running)
  • Golf
  • Badminton
  • Bowling
  • Racquetball
  • Rollerblading or skating
  • Baseball or Softball
  • Ice Skating
  • Taekwondo / Marital Arts
  • Basketball (lateral running combined with running forwards & backwards)
  • Weight training – chop squats, ball knee rotations, lateral shuffles and leg raises

In blog post Part 2 of Spinal Rotation for Golf & Life, I will include pictures and video of me demonstrating a golf conditioning/spinal rotation exercise while a client follows my lead, as well as 2 stretches. You can do these as a warm up before golf or running.

Want to break par or need the expertise & accountability
of a personal trainer & live in Memphis?
Click here for your Free Consult Value $87) or give us a call at 901-466-6242

Interested in our Massage or Body Wraps? Click here.

Don’t live nearby or travel a lot? Check out our customized online training ($40-$80) here:  Online Customized Training