I am a big fan of this Mike Boyle statement:
“bad golfers rotate from the low back, good golfers rotate from the thoracic spine and the hips”
Indeed, Mike has been largely responsible for bring the thoracic spine to the attention of golfers. In short, increasing t-spine rotation will allow you to increase shoulder turn in your back swing, stay more stable in the lower body and protect your lower back.
Happily, many golfers are now working on t-spine mobility, exercises such as the open books and half moons (video below) have been increasingly popular. However, I can’t help but feel golfers are missing part of the picture.
Most of us have horrible posture (blame your boss as it’s all that time you spend at a computer or driving that’s at fault!). This leads to a rounded (kyphotic) posture of the spine which means the t-spine is locked in a flexed position.
If you’re trying to do an open book mobilisation starting with this type of spine you will never get the rotation you are looking for. Developing t-spine extension and normal spine position is essential to proper rotation, t-spine extensions on a foam roller or a bench (pictured below) are your best options here.
These exercises are great for increasing t-spine mobility however they do so in a manner in which we are supported and stabilised by the floor.
With most mobility drills, there should be a progression to coming off the floor into a more vertical position so that the body is required to support/ stabilise the moving joints, load bearing is a manner more applicable to that required in the golf swing and the usability of that mobility can be more applicable.
Following that idea of moving from a ground based position to standing, we look to progress through a quadruped, to half-kneeling, to standing and golf posture positions.
Here’s a few of my favourite progressions:
Quadruped extension/ rotation
This introduces some shoulder and core stability elements, whilst the quadruped position does increase the load demands somewhat.
Be sure to keep the core tight and make sure the movement comes from the t-spine not lumbar spine (lower back). Be sure to follow the moving elbow with your eyes.
Half-kneeling thoracic rotations
This movement relies on core control to develop hip and thoracic spine rotation, plus some extension of the spine to accommodate the arm movement.
Try to reach the arm as high as possible and get the biceps as close to the ear as possible. The band provides some assistance with this so removing the band would actually represent a progression
Spiderman lunge with overhead reach
Similar to the half kneeling thoracic rotations this movement relies on core control to develop hip and thoracic spine rotation, but also introduces the knees, ankles and feet to the stability equation. You are also now required to express thoracic spine mobility in a more dynamic motion.
So, If you are struggling to see the gains you make in t-spine exercises like open books actually carryover to your golf swing give this ground based to standing progression a try.