By Pam Owens, Special to Lone Star Golf
All golfers want more power. In order to achieve it, you need great width in the backswing and a strong finish. Chances are you’ve done stretches and tried various workouts to get your body into the correct positions during the golf swing in pursuit of more distance.
Many golfers do perform useful exercises, of course, but often they don’t do them effectively or consistently enough to create meaningful changes that lead to greater performance on the course. We’re going to fix that!
First, let’s explain what we mean by better width. At the top of your backswing, your lead arm should be straight, and your back should face the target, which means you completed a 90-degree shoulder turn. (Most amateurs collapse their arms and wrists and never achieve a 90-degree turn.) In contrast, professional tour players generally rotate more than that, over 110 degrees in most cases, with trunk rotation around 60 degrees.
By minimizing hip rotation during the backswing while maximizing shoulder turn, tour players generate a tremendous amount of coil or torque, which leads to a explosive release of energy in the downswing. When you take those rotating joint positions and add to them a strong stable back, core, knees and feet, then you have a powerful, wide backswing and a strong finish position.
It’s important to understand that our joints can weaken in unused ranges much like muscles. If you’ve ever had a cast on an injured joint, then, once it was removed, you know how much mobility and strength you lost from non-use. Joints are no different than bone or muscles in that they require movement or force to become stronger.
Because of the brain’s amazing ability to protect us from injury, however, it won’t allow us to go into deep end stretching ranges. The brain’s over-protection mode automatically guards us from aggravating a previous injury site and knows when we have a lack of control in deep ranges. You actually possess the capacity to move into a deeper range of motion than you are currently accessing. When you train those ranges, your body begins to have the confidence to go there with control and speed.
Just a few daily focused movements with lots of repetition equates to more frequent messages to the brain. This repetition trains your brain to gain confidence which then allows your body to move into a greater span in the backswing and finish. Eventually leading to the capacity for higher speed throughout your swing. Violà, more power!
Here are five shoulder exercises to help bulletproof your joints. Do five repetitions of each movement while maintaining a stable body position.
1. Axial Rotations – Hold your arms out horizontally and slightly in front of you. Focus on rotating your upper arms from the shoulder.
2. Circumduction Front & Back – Circle your arms in the greatest circle, both forwards and backwards. Externally rotate in front of your body and internally rotate behind your body.
3. RP Flex-T Axial Rotations – From ready-position (RP) or golf posture with your arms up, hold an object in each hand. Internally and externally rotate shoulders as far as possible while keeping elbows in place. Perform with palms in and palms out.
4. RP Scap Angels – From ready position (RP) or golf posture, hold an object in each hand. Move your arms in large circles and add elbow hinging. Maintain arms in posterior closing angle at the shoulders.
5. Scap Rolls Front & Back – Hold arms in a horizontal position and hold an object in each hand. Move your scapulae (shoulder blades) in large circles in both directions.
By adding these five daily movements, you will build more resilient joints. Stronger joints mean less injury and more control. The great news is when you increase your shoulder mobility with these five daily movements, the benefits will show up in all parts of your swing.
For a visual guide of these Bulletproof Your Joints exercises, check out my helpful video that demonstrates the movements.
In a few weeks or months, you will likely see greater width in your backswing. It will be amazing to feel more ability to generate speed and lag at impact, then follow through to a stronger finish. You’ll be hooked on how well your shoulders move and feel from adding more mobility.
Post your swing or exercise photos/videos to Twitter and tag @pamowensfitness and @texasgolfassoc to get a repost! I can’t wait to hear from you. As always, please reach out to me with your questions or comments about how these moves work for you!
Pam Owens is one of Golf Digest’s 50 Best Golf Fitness Professionals and the Director of Fitness at Royal Oaks CC in Houston. To learn more from Pam, click here.