Thoracic Mobility for Golfers
The thoracic spine is composed of 12 vertebrae between your neck and lower back that the ribs attach to. Proper mobility here allows the necessary shoulder turn within the back swing and can reduce the amount of strain placed on the lower back. This rotation also helps dissociate the upper and lower body during the swing allowing power generation through the core musculature. Many people also lack thoracic extension which allows for proper movement of the scapula (shoulder blade) which is critical for the mechanics of the shoulder.
Here are 3 of our favorite exercises for improving and maintaining thoracic mobility:
Thoracic extension over a foam roller/peanut ball:
This exercise is designed to improve thoracic extension at a segmental level, meaning one joint between two vertebrae is isolated at a time. To perform this exercise place the foam roller or peanut ball (can be created by taping two tennis balls together) at the level you hope to mobilize. Crossing your arms across your chest will ensure the pressure is applied to the spine and not your shoulders. Lean your head and shoulders back over the pivot point while the rest of the body below this point stays stationary. Repeat 4-5 times at several different levels throughout the thoracic spine.
Lay on your side with your top leg raised forward into a marching position. This position will limit any movement from the pelvis and lower extremities. With both arms extended in front of you, reach your top arm up towards the ceiling and continue rotating attempting to get the shoulder blade of the same arm to the ground. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds and repeat 4-5 times per side.
Thread the needle with sky rotation:
Position yourself on all floors using a mat as needed depending on the surface. With your hands below your shoulders and knees below your hips reach one hand through the hole created by the opposite arm and leg extending as far to the side as you can. You’ll notice how your shoulders near a point of being stacked vertically on top of each other. Then rotate the opposite direction with the same arm attempting to point up toward the ceiling.
This can be done with the hand placed behind the head to reduce potential strain on the shoulder.