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An Ohio licensed Physical Therapist, TPI Certified Golf Fitness Instructor and K-vest Level one certified instructor providing simple exercises for golfers that empower them to train without pain.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

3 Exercises to Help You Hit the Golf Ball Farther - Part 2

Hitting a golf ball farther involves a lot of factors.

So, is it really possible that three exercises can increase golf ball distance? Yeah, I am a little skeptical about that too. A lot of it depends upon your present ability. If you are already hitting an average of 326 yards, then... not so much.

Still, there are three basic exercises that can be done relatively easily that will help you to learn body awareness, promote flexibility and improve your pelvic control. 

These three exercises are named The PelvicTilt, The Open Book and The Pelvic Hinge or "X"-Rotation.


In my experience, the average golfer lacks basic body awareness and has difficulty controlling his/her pelvis. As a result, turning the torso separate from the pelvis and visa versa is very difficult to master. 

This is a basic necessity in the golf swing as well as in every other rotational sport such as throwing. In order to do this, an athlete needs to be able to control his/her pelvis.

The pelvic tilt (or 'Elvis pelvis' for you baby boomers) is a motion in which the belt buckle moves closer and farther from the navel. The pelvis rotates around an imaginary axis passing through one hip to the other. This is an important motion to counter what is referred to as 'lower crossed syndrome'.

This syndrome is the typical posture of the aging person where the abdomen and gluteal muscles grow slack while the paraspinal muscles (that run up and down either side of the spine) and the hip flexors (that run from his lower back to the inside of our thighs) adaptively shorten. 

The result is a pelvis with a downward tilt producing a 'S-posture' or swayed back when addressing the golf ball.

Poor control of this motion means that power is not transferred from the lower body to the upper body. This loss of power means that the golfer has to rely more on the arms and hands for power and timing.

According to Hank Haney, inconsistent ball flights usually are because of a 'timing driven swing' that relies on corrections in hand position to square the club face to the ball at impact.

Another golf swing fault due to poor pelvic control is early extension. This occurs when the hips and pelvis move closer to the ball at impact. The upper body lifts up and balance is compromised.

This also can give the golfer the sensation that their hands get 'blocked' or trapped because the hips now occupy the space where the arms are supposed to be. 

If you have ever 'shanked' the ball, it it is very likely because of early extension due to poor pelvic control.

Years ago, Bob Spackman was the head athletic trainer at Southern Illinois University and taught several classes there. 

He advised us, his students, to do pelvic tilts whenever we are driving.  He taught us to do a pelvic tilt every time that a tractor-trailer passes us in the oncoming lane. He advised a simple five second isometric contraction of the abdomen and gluteal muscles.

The point of this is that you can start now, in your chair, in front of a mirror or anytime to gain control of those nasty swing faults that are so frustrating.


If your life is not already an open book, this next exercise will teach you how to be one.

 'The Open Book' is designed to help increase that elusive 'X-factor' at the end of the back swing. An correct X-factor reduces the potential for injury in the low back and shoulders. 

The 'X-factor' is the different angle that the shoulders are at in relation to the hips. If you were to look down directly above a golfers head when they are at the top of their back swing, the line through their shoulders will form an X with the line through their hips.

Hank Haney points out in his book: Hank Haney's Essentials of The Swing that the golf club is not swung on a single plane but "rather, the golf club is swung on many planes that all have the same plane angle." 

The plane angle is that angle that is formed between the ground and the golf club. According to Haney, the only plane angle that matters is the one formed at impact. Everything else in the swing needs to conform to the correct plane angle at impact.

So, if the golfer is to maintain that plane angle, then he or she needs to have the flexibility through the back swing so that a loss of posture doesn't cause that plane angle to be lost.

The lumbar spine is designed for bending forward and backward, not for rotation. If you force it to rotate - especially rotate and de-rotate at high rates of speed as in the golf swing, it is only a matter of time before serious injury will occur. This will happen if there is not enough available rotation in the thoracic spine.

The healthy thoracic and cervical spine on the other hand are capable of rotation from a neutral posture. That is what these exercises focus on.

Let me emphasize with caps: DO NOT DO THIS IF IT IS PAINFUL. DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU HAVE HAD ANY SURGERY without first consulting with your physician and/or physical therapist.

This exercise is done by starting in side laying with both knees and hips slightly flexed into a comfortable position. Employ the pelvic tilt for a neutral spine. Both arms are extended in front with open palms facing each other.

From this starting position, slowly raise the top arm in a sweeping plane as if you are a book opening up. Continue the sweep allowing your top shoulder to roll backward toward the floor and chest toward the ceiling. 

Go as far as you can until you feel a gentle stretch. Do not allow your hand to touch the floor before your shoulder.

When a stretch is felt, hold that position to a count of five, take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. 

Return to the starting position. Repeat this 8-10 times on each side.


This last exercise, when mastered will have a major impact on the average golfers swing. 

My goal throughout this post is to not only provide information that will help you swing better but also help you to keep swinging longer through your lifetime.

Unlike machines our bodies repair themselves and unlike mechanics, Doctors and Therapists cannot simply order new parts. 

Instead, they rely on their expertise to strategically provide help  that allows healing to take place. Targeted exercises can go a long way to restoring or improving body mechanics.

The three exercises that I am focusing on in these articles; The Pelvic Tilt, The Open Book and The Pelvic Hinge or X-Rotation I have discovered to be foundational to promoting improved body mechanics for an improved golf swing. 

The Pelvic Hinge is the most difficult of the three to do correctly. Yet it offers the greatest benefit when combined with the previous two.

In the golf swing, the golfer is required to coil and uncoil his or her body very rapidly while maintaining a consistent swing plane angle to the ground. 

In order to do this there must be good body awareness and control to efficiently transfer energy from the ground sequentially through the legs, hips, torso, arms and club.

Some have likened this to using a whip where the right sequence of movement with relatively little effort can produce a powerful crack at the end of the whip.

This exercise is best done in front of a long mirror. Assume a golfer's address position with your arms crossed in front of your chest. With your knees slightly bent, you are going to attempt to rotate your hips without raising, lowering or rotating your shoulders. In addition, your hips should not move side to side.

Next, assume the same address position again. Only this time instead of moving your hips, rotate your shoulders as far as you can without rotating your hips or raising or lowering your shoulders.

If you cannot comfortably do this without losing posture, then you will continue to have difficulty producing power in your golf swing while maintaining the correct plane angle. In addition you are at risk of injuring your low back and shoulders.

All is not lost however. With practice, this will improve as your body awareness improves. Repeat this drill for 8 - 10 reps, stand upright and repeat it again. Do this several times through the day and have someone spot you to confirm that you are not losing posture.

One of the best things for you to do is to have a 12 point golf fitness screen done by a TPI Certified Golf Fitness Instructor or a TPI Certified Golf Professional. He or she can use this screen to identify your main limitations and provide you with targeted exercises.

The TPI screen along with working with professional golf instruction is proven to be beneficial for improving the golf swing, lowering scores and keeping golfers less prone to injury. After all this is a great way to...

Have a Great Game! 

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