You might have had the chance to read an article we posted recently about trying to cure the curse of the dreaded slice. There are a number of physical restrictions within your body that might be part of why you find it difficult to get into the correct impact positions. The exercises in this week’s tips will look at ways to improve your flexibility with an eye to making it easier to get into good positions whilst swinging the golf club. Each exercise will have an easy version for the older / less fit golfer and progress through so that the last progression should give even a younger / stronger, healthy golfer a good challenge. If you don’t have any pain or obvious restriction in your movement then you might find the old trick of swinging 2 clubs together or a weighted club or specific product like the ‘orange whip’ to be an effective way of increasing your swing speed and range. Hold it as you would normally hold a club and swing it like a baseball back and forth letting your trunk rotate a little bit further than usual with the momentum of the club.


If your spine is very stiff and you don’t rotate very well it is difficult to get the club back behind you and in a good position to start a neutral or in-to-out swing path. Greater rotation means a longer swing, that is easier to keep on plane and more chance to generate some clubhead speed. Longer and straighter……sounds good!!

Let’s start with the easiest / gentlest of the stretches. Position yourself on a sturdy, stable chair as shown above. Use your arms to help guide the movement as you pull yourself into a twist. As with any stretch, start slowly, if all you feel is healthy, comfortable lengthening and stretching then you can gradually apply more force. If you’re feeling pain into your mid or lower back then ease off.

A little more difficult this time, you need to be able to get up and down from the floor happily for this stretch. Start in side-lying with your knees bent and both arms reaching out in front of you at shoulder level. Begin the stretch by reaching with your top hand across your body, try to make the arm elongate out as far as possible and feel the stretch between your shoulder blade and the spine on the top side. Hold the stretch gently before turning back and taking your arm back across your body reaching for the floor behind you and letting the top of your spine twist whilst your hips and lower body stay still. You should feel the stretch into your chest muscle on the top side as well as through your trunk. Getting good range in both your shoulder and trunk will help to keep your swing on plane.

Now lets incorporate your lower back and hips into some of your spinal mobility / stretching. Let’s start easy – lying on your back with your knees bent up to perform a simple low back stretch by swinging your knees gently from side to side. Keep your shoulders flat but let the rest of your trunk twist and stretch.

You can progress this stretch by using your opposite arm to pull your knee across your body to increase the stretch as seen below left. You can angle your top knee toward the opposite shoulder to get some stretch into your gluteals at the same time. In the image below right the exercise combines abdominal strength with some rotation. Having to control the weight of your lower limbs as they swing gently from side to side will make your abdominals work and improve your control in end range as well as stretching your lower back. Only attempt this exercise if you managed the other two exercises comfortably and are confident in the strength of your tummy muscles. If you feel that your pelvis tilts forward or your lower back lifts off the floor when you lift your legs up then this exercise is probably a bit too difficult for you. Make sure to keep your belly button drawn in as you move side to side.

If all of those exercises feel comfortable we can try and make things a bit more difficult by performing a similar stretch in sitting as pictured below left. By this stage you should be feeling both your middle and lower back getting a stretch as well as your gluteal muscles on the side that your knee is bent. The last progression, below right, would be to flex at the elbow of the arm you are using to push against your knee. Elbow down and forearm perpendicular to the ground similar to the position it will be in when you reach the top of your backswing. Good range with this exercise should mean you can achieve good separation of trunk and hips, avoid a flying elbow and get a better wind-up through your trunk.

Because the golf swing is so complex it is easy for issues in one area to overlap and cause issues somewhere else. The images below illustrate why spinal rotation is so important in the swing. In the first image good rotation of the trunk and hips enables the shoulders and club shaft to stay on plane at the top of the backswing. A lower lead arm and more upright right forearm puts the arms and wrist in a position that will make it far more comfortable to keep the downswing on an inside or neutral swing path. In the second image a poor trunk rotation makes it look like the right shoulder lacks external rotation and is unable to get to a good finish point at the top of the backswing. The restricted range at his lower back and hips means the golfer needs either a very abbreviated backswing or create range with his arms by moving off plane to feel like he is getting a long enough backswing. The higher front arm, winging right upper arm and tilted forearm sends the swing into a steeper and far more likely out-to-in swing path unless the golfer makes some serious corrections with their hands at the bottom of the swing…..not easy to do consistently.


Of course many golfers have some underlying restriction in their spinal movement and so we might need to help compensate for that with better shoulder range. There are two main points of restriction that your shoulders must overcome so that you can swing a golf club comfortably. One for the front arm and one for the trail arm. At the top of your backswing your front arm has to tuck across your body just under your chin.

The stretch below will help you get into that position, feeling a stretch across the back of your shoulder as you pull your lead arm across your body with the help of your trailing arm, don’t push the movement too far and stop if you feel jammed or sore into the front of your shoulder as you perform the stretch. You can combine it with trunk rotation in your normal golf stance to more closely replicate the feeling of keeping some length in the swing at the top of your backswing. Adam Scott has one of the more perfect swings in modern golf. Here he shows just how far the modern golf swing coils the spine and brings the shoulder across the body.

In the image below Piers from Youtube Channel ‘Me and My Golf’ shows the other shoulder position you might struggle with if you’re a bit stiff. Getting your trail arm into a comfortable position at the top of your backswing, elbow in line with your trunk and forearm perpendicular to the ground not elbow flying out to one side and forearm pointing well right of target. Of course the only right and wrong with your swing is at impact but this position is common in golfers with out-to-in swing and potentially a slicing ball flight. The image on the right shows 3 different professionals, different ages, swings and prize money but consistent shoulder / club plane and right elbows.

The stretch position bottom left can be done against a wall, doorway or pole and might help to both wind up your middle back and get you able to open out into a better right arm position. Try to combine a movement forward, by stepping past the wall / through the doorway with the leg of the same side, as well as a turn of your trunk away from the arm that is stretching to combine back and shoulder stretching all at once, you could even try it with your clothes on?! Having enough external rotation range means that you can roll your rear hand further back at the top of your backswing which might help you shallow your plane and come more from the inside. You can stretch into some external rotation in a few different ways using your golf clubs or some exercise band. The images middle and right use your club to generate rotation at the shoulder. This mechanism is very efficient, be gentle YOU DON’T NEED MUCH FORCE TO CREATE A BIG STRETCH!

You can use exercise band to improve range and strength all at once. You will need to attach the band securely behind you as shown in red opposite. Tying a knot in the band and closing the knot in a doorway is one good way to get the height you desire as well as providing a sturdy attachment point. Let the band stretch your arm back behind you to get stretch as in the image on the left and then pull down against the band keeping your elbow fixed to get some strength in an end range position as seen in the figure on the right. Try to isolate the movement to your shoulder and don’t compensate with your wrist or trunk.


The last place I will focus your attention is your hips. Your spine and your hips are very closely linked and you need good rotation in both to let you perform an efficient golf swing. For some of our older readers their hips may no longer be the original manufacturer’s equipment?! Whilst hip replacements are usually good for getting rid of pain they certainly don’t move as well as the original joints. For golfers a lack of internal rotation in their hips is more likely to cause trouble than a lack of external rotation. It may prevent them rotating back far enough during their backswing as well as blocking a fluid movement as their weight shifts more onto the front foot through impact and follow-through. If you’re an older golfer struggling with getting your hips to turn try addressing the ball as you normally would but then turning your lead foot more open towards the target, try to keep your shoulders square to your intended path as you move. This should give you a little more wriggle room and make it easier for you to clear your hips during your down swing.

The image to the left is perhaps the simplest way to stretch the internal rotators. Keep your back flat and try to make your knees fall in / roll in further toward the midline to feel greater stretch. The spine and the pelvis are always interrelated, if you don’t get movement in one then the other will try and compensate. Always try to think about what your lower back is doing to make sure you’re not cheating whilst stretching your hips. If you are feeling jammed or sore into your lower back after doing some of the hip stretches it may be a giveaway that your technique is poor. If you are sore into the front of the hip you may be causing some impingement or pinching there, don’t push things too hard.

Similar to the shoulder stretches you can use exercise bands to help stretch and strengthen at the same time. If you can set this position up at home then you can get a stretch from the band as you relax the leg and let your foot fall out to the side (keep you pelvis and lower back still) and then get some strength into external rotation as you pull your foot back in toward the midline against the band.

If you feel as if those stretches aren’t too difficult then you probably already have enough range to get into optimum positions whilst swinging a golf club but here are some slightly harder hip stretches for those that feel they need more challenge. The stretch below left starts in a similar position to the first stretch but now you can use the opposite leg to pull one leg into more stretch. Try to do a better job of keeping your lower back flat on the floor than the model in the image! The ‘mermaid’ position or 90:90 hip stretch position (bottom right) is another good way of getting some range into your hips. Once you’re comfortable with the basics you can work on rotating through your trunk and leaning into different directions to feel more stretch. Again, maybe try it with your clothes on!

Remember the stretching you’re performing should feel comfortable and gently take muscles and joints through range but not cause pain or jamming anywhere. If you feel like your body can get into all of the positions from today’s tips without any problems then you have more than enough of the movement required to get into good positions on the golf course….BUT…. can you control them and/or get through them with force? Stay tuned for the last tips of the series next week where we look in more details at some golf specific strengthening you might like to try.

If you’re having trouble with any of these exercises or have any questions don’t hesitate to contact the friendly team at SSPC.