5 Exercises to Improve Thoracic Spine Rotation

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Hey guys. It’s Fitness Friday!

This week we’re talking about how to avoid pain and injury to our low back. It’s one of the most common issues I see among golfers. Pain and injury can keep us from playing our best, or from even being able to play at all!

Daniel Cowell asked a great question about what we can do to keep our low back feeling good. What are some things to avoid in the gym or on the course? What are some exercises or stretches to do to prevent pain and injury?

It’s important to know that low back pain can be caused by a variety of reasons. It can be something you’re doing, or not doing. Stress. Poor technique. Weakness. Tightness. It’s also likely that you will need to address a need in another area of your body, hips, for example, to make your low back feel better. The following are my most recommended strategies for preventing low back pain.

What are some things you should avoid in the gym or on the course? To determine that, I would recommend being assessed by a personal trainer who understand the physical demands of the golf swing, and get instruction from a teaching pro who understands how your body’s ability to move influences how you swing. The trainer can then build you a workout program with exercises that are safe for you, exercises that will prepare your body for the demands of the game, and progress those exercises at a rate that is appropriate for your training age. The teaching pro will be able to instruct you based on how your body moves and not ask you to get into positions in your swing that may cause injury.

What are some exercises or stretches to do to prevent pain and injury? Let’s start with a quick anatomy lesson. Our spine is made up of 3 basic sections. Our cervical (neck), thoracic (mid back) and lumbar (low back) spine. Pain in our low back is often the result of our hips and thoracic spine not moving as well as they should. When they don’t move well, the low back suffers. Refer back to my post from last week for my favorite exercises to improve mobility in the hips. More about the thoracic spine in a minute.

Low back pain can also be caused by an inability of our core to maintain enough stability of our spine during repeated, high speed golf swings. It’s important to strengthen our core with functional exercises that prepare us for the demands of the game. For some of my favorite core exercises, see my post from 3 weeks ago.

Which brings us to this week’s video and back to the thoracic spine (you see what I did there?). We want the upper body rotation in our swing to come from the thoracic spine and not the lumbar spine, but if our thoracic spine can’t move well, it may cause low back pain. Finally, each vertebrae in our spine is a little joint and each of those joints should be able to move independently from the one above and below it. If we lose the ability to do that, it often causes pain. So today’s video is 5 of my favorite exercises to improve rotation of our thoracic spine and segmentation of our spine.

Try adding these exercises to your warmups and workouts and let me know if you have any questions. Play well this weekend and I’ll see you next Fitness Friday!

Remember to post your golf fitness questions in our Facebook Group: