Golf Swing Over Rotation and Lower back Injuries go hand in hand. Does your golf swing instructor know why?
One of my main goals when teaching my students and PGA Instructors this wonderful game of golf is to make sure they are utilizing correct Biomechanical Principles and avoiding lower spinal compression. Lower back injuries are the number one injury in golf and can be caused from a simple lack of understanding by swing instructors and players.
There are several “opportunities” to create trauma or avoid trauma to our spine while performing the golf swing. Here are critical points to understand as a golf instructor.
1) Set up – The correct biomechanical golf set up has the pelvis tilted forward approximately 20 degrees and the torso (upper body) tilted forward about 30 degrees. This set up position allows us to be in a neutral spine position which will not compress the spine and allows the glute and core muscles to activate and fire during the swing.
Many amateur golfers and swing coaches all too often have players tilt the pelvis too far forward and keep the upper body to upright. This leads to what is called S Posture at set up and places extreme compression forces on the lumbar spine.
2) Pelvis Sway – When a players trail side hip (and pelvis girdle) sways away from the ball during the back swing, it greatly increases the chance to add compression forces the the lumbar spine. If a player has a good range of motion in the torso or over rotates the hips to allow the upper body to break 90 degrees in the back swing… in addition to pelvis sway… the lumbar spine is in extreme negative extension and compression forces are creating micro trauma with each and every swing!
3) Over Rotation of the hips and Torso – Many swing instructors have their players rotate as much as possible with both the hips and torso thinking they are going to generate more swing speed and power. There are several reasons this is not a good idea for power production and injury prevention.
- Over rotation leads to an incorrect loading of the rear foot and a lack of force production in the down swing. When a players weight falls to the outside of the back foot in order to maintain balance due to over rotation… the player can not generate and transfer force through the foot which normally leads to a casting or early release of the club. This also shuts down power production of the lower body and over all club head speed.
- Over rotation also leads to negative spine extension at the top of the back swing. When the spine goes into negative extension, the glutes and core muscles cannot fire at maximum levels in a self defense mechanism during the down swing.
Power in the golf swing comes from the separation in degrees of the lower body (hips and pelvis) and the upper body. When looking at the mechanics of a spine we can see that the thoracic spine is made to rotate and the lumbar spine is not.
Simple rough math tells us we have approximately 60 degrees of thoracic spinal rotation potential with a healthy thoracic spine.
So the goal should be to maximize spinal rotation and create as much separation as possible between the pelvis and upper body without turning the combination of the 2 segments beyond 90 degrees.
In summary please have your swing instructor pay close attention to your biomechanics at set up and top of swing. Don’t allow your pelvis to sway away from the target during your swing. Instead “stay in the bucket” and learn to rotate your lower body instead of swaying or sliding to reduce injury potential and increase power and distance.
Tom Lowrie is a Certified Swing Instructor, Biomechanist, Junior Coach and Certified Personal Trainer. You can reach Tom by email at email@example.com