If you go back to Part 1 of this 3 part series you will see that the first stretch I recommended was related to improving your hip mobility. In Part 2 I am going to take you up to the shoulders. What's the Shoulder Flexion (Lat Length Test) Got to Do With It? The majority of PGA players are going to be able to get their lead arm up and across with very little effort. The average club golfer, well-not so much. What allows them to do that is adequate mobility in the Thoracic Spine (rib cage) and mobility in the shoulder girdle - or the ability to lift their arms up while the torso is turning-without coming out of posture.
The test we do at TPI is called the shoulder flexion test. Simply put, you lean into a wall as if you are going to sit into a chair. Then you are asked to keep your butt, shoulders, and head on the wall and flatten your lower back so there is no space between you and the wall.
From this starting point, we want you to lift your arms up as far as you can without increasing the space between your lower back and the wall. If you can get your arms to touch the wall or close to it, without your back coming forward, you exhibit adequate shoulder mobility. This will help you maintain your posture in the backswing and resist a the dreaded Early Extension swing fault so many golfers struggle with.
As you can see from the anatomy image below, the latissimus dorsi, or lats for short, attach your upper arm bone to the top of your pelvis.
If you struggle with shoulder mobility you will likely go into what's known as S-Posture (too much forward tilt at the belt line) (seen in the middle image), as you are moving your arms up to the top of your backswing.
The result of that is losing posture in your backswing and that can cause a host of downswing problems we can talk about another time.
To improve upon this we are going to take the same approach as we did in part 1.
Step 1: Improve Tissue Quality-Rolling
This one is pretty simple. Lie on your side with the bottom arm outstretched and straight at the elbow. Roll your body slightly back and forth while rotating your palm up. When you feel a tight spot, stop, hold, and breathe. Thirty seconds or so on each side should do.
Step 2: Improve Tissue Length-Stretching
There are many ways and positions that can be used to improve lat length. This band assisted version is one of my favorites. Click the image to see the video tutorial as well.
Step 3: Improve Tissue Joint Mobility
Begin this drill standing upright with your palms facing forward. You can use an iron, a driver or any stick will do. From this position, lift your arms up as high as you can without arching your low back. Perform about 10 repetitions.
An advanced version of this exercise will be to perform it in the same way from a mid-iron position. Again, do not let the lifting of your arms moving your pelvis forward.
Step 4: Train The Brain
Now you will need to practice turning the chest and lifting the arms while not coming apart at the seams. In other words, stop the arm lift before your pelvis unlocks from your torso.
Brett's Bottom Line: Mobile shoulders are a key to good golf and a good life. If you want to put things in the cabinet, luggage in the overhead compartment of an airplane or get more distance in your swing, shoulder mobility will help you accomplish all of the above.
"My longest drive used to be 240 yards, with an average of 225. I'm now averaging 245 yards and have hit several 270 yarders and one 280! Gonna be a fun season!" Thanks Brett __Ken Davenport
If you would like to get some help with your mobility and how you can use it to Play Golf Better, give me a call and set up a screening appointment. "Feel the difference in your body, See the difference in your swing"