Unlocking Your Swing Installment 7: Reverse Spine Angle

Reverse spine angle: three words any golf swing or fitness coach dreads hearing.

An excessive amount of backwards and left lateral bending (for a right handed golfer) during the backswing is what we refer to as reverse spine angle. Excessive spinal motion typically places a lot of torsional forces on the spine that we simply can't absorb through our vertebrae. With repetitive motion through the golf swing, this force can lead to back pain and discomfort over time. 

While reverse spine angle causes pain, it also creates difficulty initiating the downswing. A poor club path and lack of lower-half engagement will lead to poor ball contact and decreased power output. These two factors alone could lead to a frustrating day on the course.

Now that we understand what reverse spine angle is, it's time to troubleshoot the causes behind it.

Reverse spine angle occurs when:

  • You don't have the ability to separate your upper body from your lower body.
  • You lack hip internal rotation on the downswing leg.
  • Lack of strength and stability through the core and hips throughout the swing.

These videos demonstrate how to better control your body, which will have great carryover to the swing overtime if you have true movement discrepancies.

The kettlebell arm bar is designed to help improve thoracic spine rotation, upper body dissociation from the lower body, and shoulder stability. All three of these are key to a powerful swing. 

The Technique:

  • Lay on your back. Hold a kettlebell in one arm and bend the same side knee.
  • Drive the leg with the bent knee into the floor to initiate your roll.
  • Keeping your knuckles facing the ceiling, bring that same leg over your body and place it on the ground.
  • Drive the pelvis of your top leg into the floor to maximize thoracic rotation.
  • Hold for 15 seconds and roll back to the start position. 

The ability to reach the top of your backswing because of lack of mobility or stability of the shoulders can cause the reverse spine angle.  The reach, roll, and lift exercise challenges strength, stability, and mobility of the upper extremities.

The Technique:

  • Start in a quadruped position (on hands and knees) and sit back onto your heels.
  • Make a fist with one hand and place your head on it. 
  • Take the other arm and reach out in front of you as far as possible with your palm facing down.  
  • When you can't reach any further, rotate your palm up to the ceiling.  
  • Once your palm faces upward, lift your arm off the floor as high as you can without bending your elbow.
  • Repeat for 5-8 per side.

Learning how to extend the hip without moving the lower back is key towards avoiding reverse spine angle. Prone hip extension off a table is a great way to teach true hip extension. By using a table, as you can see in the video above, you're providing feedback to the torso to ensure that you don't extend the lumbar spine. If you feel your stomach push into the table while moving the leg, you're compensating with lower back motion. Perform these for 8 on each side.

Pallof presses are a great way to develop anti-rotation stability, which will help develop a strong midsection throughout the entire swing. In the video, you could make the exercise more challenging by changing your foot position. The narrower base of support you have, the more difficult the press will be. Perform this for 8 to 12 reps per side each set and make sure you control each rep.

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