Top 5 Tips on Spine Angle
Achieving the proper spine angle and position, for your own body, at address is vital for a successful golf swing. It is a key factor in enabling you to turn efficiently, and to swing powerfully and consistently, while protecting your back and avoiding back pain and injury. The proper spine position will place your spine in the best position for an efficient and stable turn throughout the golf swing, able to safely support and protect your back as enormous forces are generated through impact, while remaining centered and balanced throughout the swing. Proper spine angle is also vital in achieving proper balance throughout the golf swing, helping to provide a solid foundation and a stable axis for rotation. During the following section, we will cover how to keep your back straight during the swing, and why it is vital that you are actually paying attention to your spine angle when looking to achieve the proper swing.
The first thing we will look at is why having a straight back helps to ensure the proper spine angle during your swing. The regions of your spine that rotate during the golf swing are the neck, mid to upper back, and the lower back. Your spine is not straight, each region curves naturally when in a “neutral” position. When you bend your spine away from this neutral position, for example by hunching forwards with your upper back or bending at your waist, as so many golfers do, you severely limit the amount of rotation that is possible between the vertebrae in those parts of your spine. It’s not uncommon to see a golfer limit his shoulder turn to just 60 degrees just by bending incorrectly at address, resulting not just in considerable loss of power, but also, in severe back pain. I can speak to this myself, I have battled back injuries throughout my career, and I never found the pain going away until I really paid attention to my spine angle. By adopting the proper spine position at address, I was able to eliminate the discomfort.
So, what do you need to do to achieve the proper spine angle? Most golfers tend to look down at the golf ball at address, causing excessive forward bending, of the top of the spine… or your neck. Bending in the upper portion of the back is one of the most common setup flaws. It causes numerous swing issues and severely limits rotational mobility. Most golfers bend their spine as they slump or round their shoulders at address, caused by their shoulder blades to retract as they move their hands in front of their chest to take their grip. This leads to the golfer being disconnected from their core muscles which forces them to primarily use their upper body to drive his movement from the top of the backswing, rather than initiating the downswing with the hips and lower body. Thus, excessive curvature of the spine will usually result in an inefficient, over-the-top move and a slice-producing out-to-in swing path for higher handicap golfers. With many golfers, the spine is rounded as the golfer rotates his elbows to point away from his body. It is crucial that you keep your elbows in good posture, with the fronts of your elbows facing directly forward and your palms facing each other. When in perfect posture, if you bend your elbows then your forearms will be parallel to each other and pointing directly out in front of you. Finally, we will pay attention to the lower spine. In an effort to keep their backs straight, golfers ill usually arch their lower back. This is also a common trait in golfers because some instructors have advocated “sticking the backside out” at address. This appearance is easily eliminated by engaging your abs muscles as part of assuming proper posture at address. If your lumbar spine is excessively arched at address, this puts you at greater risk of lower back pain and injury. If you often feel tension or pain in your lower back after playing golf, it is most likely that you simply need to focus on your spine angle and that will remove the discomfort.
When you adopt good posture, with a neutral spine position, and you address the golf ball correctly by hinging at the hip joints, this will cause your upper and lower back to appear flat, or straight, as your pelvis rotates slightly relative to your spine, and your neck will be parallel to your back. The correct way to achieve this perfect “straight back” position is by assuming correct posture and then maintaining your spine in a neutral position as you bend to address the ball — you do this by bending from the hip joints and dropping your hips back, not by bending the spine. Be sure to maintain correct posture as you bend forwards — your chin stays up (your neck will be parallel to your back), your shoulders stay back and down, your pelvic floor is engaged, your abdominal muscles are pulled in and up correctly, your core stays connected. I realize this portion was very detailed around your back and how to keep your back protected during the swing… but I wanted you to really realize how important spine angle is to your swing, and your physical health throughout your time playing the game of golf.