shoulder-abduction

Hi everyone, thanks for stopping by, today we’re going to take a closer look at the next series in our posts regarding golfers over the age of 50.  In this post we’ll cover some great stretching exercises you can take care of at home to help fight the next item on our list of the top 5 problems killing golfers over 50, which is: Left Shoulder Abduction. Let’s get to the post!

Left shoulder abduction is when, in the golf backswing, you cross your left arm across your chest. This is key to having swing width, which is one of the vital components to power and distance, without having to add muscle or swing harder. Poor flexibility here leads to a backswing with many compensatory breakdowns such as collapsing the elbows in the backswing or an extremely limited backswing.

Unfortunately, there are very few movements that you make during your daily routine that uses this particular motion in full. As the saying goes, if you don’t use it you will lose it. This saying is very true with golfers over 50.

What typically happens is that as the golfer makes his/her backswing, they run into this shoulder limitation about there quarters of the way to the top.

At this point, one of two things will happen:

1. The backswing stops. The golfer maintains good mechanics but essentially settles for 1/2 of a swing and the loss of distance that comes with it.

2. The golfer makes “compensations” to complete the feeling of a full backswing. Unfortunately, like medications, all swing compensations come with side effects.

Like I mentioned before, most golfers will allow their elbows to breakdown or bend too much. However, allowing the elbows to breakdown causes a complete loss of swing width. And a loss of swing width results in a loss of power and distance. In addition, you will experience a decrease in accuracy because you are adding more variables to an already complicated swing. More variables leads to less consistency and accuracy.

Here is what a swing looks like when the elbows break down:

Golfer is compensating for poor flexibility by collapsing elbows at the top of the backswing.

Golfer is compensating for poor flexibility by collapsing elbows at the top of the backswing.

The best stretch that I have used to improve this motion is sometimes referred to as the Knot Stretch and I think you will find the name appropriate when you get into the position.

Arm Cross Stretch for a Bigger Golf Backswing

The stretch is pictured lying prone on your stomach. However, you can perform this stretch in the same manner standing up facing a wall.

First, take your right arm and stretch it to the left keeping it at shoulder height. Next, stretch your left arm to the right with the left arm on top of the right arm. You may need to turn your head to get deep enough for a shoulder stretch. Hold it 30 seconds and repeat with your arms switched (ei right arm higher than the left arm). Sink deep to get a good stretch. If this is too difficult, you can use only one arm instead of two and work your way up.

Good luck and stay flexible out there.  Thanks for reading!

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About the Author. Dr. Ryan York is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Certified Golf Performance Specialist. He Co-created Age Defying Golf which serves men and women golfers between the ages of 50-75 years young. Visit us at www.agedefyinggolf.com.

torso-rotation

Hi everyone, thanks for stopping by, today we’re going to take a closer look at the next series in our posts regarding golfers over the age of 50.  In this post we’ll cover some fantastic exercises you can perform at home to help combat #2 on our list of the top 5 problems killing golfers over 50, which is: torso rotation.

Loss of torso (thoracic spine) rotation is a BIG issue with golfers over 50. Lack of this rotation leads to extreme power loss, loss of the so called “x-factor,” overly short backswings, an over the top swing motion leading to pulls as well as slicing golf shots. As we grow older, we are more likely to lose some of the flexibility between the vertebrae inside our spine. This is actually a bit more the result of non-use compared to physical changes. Nevertheless, both figure in.

As a physical therapist, I work on a lot of backs. The main danger with golfers over 50 is that a few joints in the back will become tight even though others become more flexible to make up for the rigidity in their neighbors.

In other words, we move the same amount but place all of the load on fewer joints.

This can lead to injury. Lack of upper body rotation is due to a couple of independent problems:

  1. The loss of flexibility of muscle groups that actively rotate the spine/torso.
  2. The movement of the individual spinal joints, mostly of the thoracic spine or mid-back

1. The Muscles of Rotation

The muscles in charge of core rotation can easily be restricted and rigid like any muscles within the human body that are not actively stretched or moved throught their full range. You possess a number of muscle groups in command of rotation starting with the bigger oblique muscles to the small muscle groups connected directly to the spine such as the multifidi, spinalis longissiumus, etc.

Luckily, anyone is able to stretch the whole group together and does not need to isolate each muscle separately.

The vital element of an effective muscle stretch is that you should hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds continuously. Lengthier stretches have not been confirmed to have any kind of advantage in any way unless you are planning on holding the stretch for 15 minutes or longer. Good luck with that!

Try this stretch instead:

Torso Stretch for a full golf follow through swing

The key to an upper body rotation stretch is to fixate the lower body, which is really what this stretch accomplishes by folding over the leg then. Thus, the stretch pictured emphasizes spine rotation to the left, which should help you follow through to a full finish in your golf swing. In order to enhance your spine rotation in your backswing, shift onto your left side and redo the stretch in reverse.

Maintain the stretch for about 20-30 secs taking in deep breaths. If you don’t feel a good stretch, you are officially a human Gumby!

Spinal Joint Rotation

Ok, this is the great part. You can also work on the mobility of the vertebra within the same stretching position. The distinction between a stretch and a spinal joint range of motion exercise is the amount of time you hold the position. Therefore, begin at the same precise position as portrayed in the photo above. This time, rather than maintaining the pose, make a wide arc with your left hand/arm and bring it back over so that it touching your right hand/arm. Voila! Spinal mobility.

Move back and forth 20-30 times without holding any position greater than one second. Repeat upon the other side

Now you can take care of both stretching the muscle groups involved in torso rotation and improving the individual motion of the spinal joints at the same time and in the same position.

Invest a few minutes every day and you will begin to recognize a big difference. There, isn’t that is a lot easier than a 30 minute, backbreaking workout? Your welcome!

Thanks for checking in!

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Regarding the Author. Dr. Ryan York is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Certified Golf Performance Specialist. He Co-created Age Defying Golf that serves men and women golfers between the ages of 50-75 years young. Visit us at www.agedefyinggolf.com

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