Cervical Rotation Test – Does Your Neck Limit the Backswing?
At least the amount of effective rotation.
If you can’t touch your collarbone with your chin then most likely you have a short backswing, or you’re losing posture. Both of which cause loss of distance and accuracy issues.
At some point during our golfing career, we’ve all heard keep your eye on the ball or keep your head still. The only way we can do that is to have decent neck mobility, so our body can rotate while our head stays in place.
If you sway, slide, or dip that’s another matter. But our neck or the cervical region of our body should allow us to rotate during the backswing without much head movement.
The cervical vertebrae are the top seven bones in your neck. The top vertebrae C1 also called the Atlas and the next vertebrae C2 called the Axis are responsible for the majority of rotation. The lower five cervical vertebrae are more accountable for flexion and extension than rotation.
So when we say keep your neck on a swivel they aren’t kidding, as the movement between two vertebrae makes up for most of the rotation.
Because cervical rotation is important to the golf swing, we need to know if your neck has a full range of motion or if mobility is limited.
We use the cervical rotation test to screen neck mobility.
Seventh in a Series
This is the seventh post in a series of articles on mobility screens for golfers. To read other articles in the series, you will find links near the bottom of this post: Put the Horse in Front of the Cart and Get With the Fitness Program.
Further down in this article there is also a free Mobility Screening Sheet that you can download so you can track your results as you go through the whole mobility screening process.
Neck or Cervical Rotation Test
Objective of the Cervical Rotation Test
The goal is straightforward, to see if you can rotate your neck to the right and left at least 70-degrees and flex your head downward so your chin can touch your collarbone area on your chest.
Any less than that and you probably lose posture if you make a full backswing. Once you’ve lost posture it becomes harder to get the club back to the ball on the correct path to consistently strike the ball in the sweet spot.
How to Perform the Cervical Rotation Test
The procedure is easy, and it’s not hard to test yourself. However, it can be difficult to determine if you keep your shoulders from moving or shrugging during the test.
I do have a couple of ways to make sure you keep your shoulders down, and I’ll go over them a little later.
If you feel pain at any time, stop the test and seek out a medical professional.
- Stand upright with your feet together.
- Pull your shoulders back and then relax them.
- Close your mouth and keep it closed during the test.
- Turn your head to the right, so your chin stays level, and your shoulders don’t move, either by rotating, moving forward, or up & down.
- Once you’ve rotated as far as you can go without straining, lower your neck until your chin touches your chest near the collarbone area.
- The test is a pass or fail. You can either touch your collarbone with your chin without moving your shoulder or you can’t.
- Record on the TMF Mobility Sheet if you can or can’t touch your collarbone.
- Repeat the steps rotating your head to the left.
You will want to move your shoulder up to touch your chin; that is human nature, so it might take a couple of times to relax and move only your head.
If you’re having problems, look in a mirror and concentrate on not shrugging your shoulders. Another way is to place your hand on your chest with the index finger on your collarbone.
This serves two purposes, one you will know for sure if your chin can touch your collarbone. You’ll also notice if your shoulder moves when you lower your chin. You can feel the movement with your hand.
TMF Mobility Screening Sheet
You can download a copy of the TMF Mobility Screening Sheet immediately by pressing the button below.
I go through the cervical rotation test procedure in the video below.
On the Screening Sheet
Once you’ve downloaded the TMF Mobility Screening Sheet, go to the 7th test, Cervical Rotation, and circle “Yes” next to “Touches” or “Doesn’t Touch” for both the right and left directions.
Exercises to Improve Cervical Rotation
Yep, that one word about sums it the exercises.
I’ve included a couple of exercise videos below, but the gist to both is to rotate your head to either side slowly and in control and keep trying to rotate further.
As you can imagine, the neck is a sensitive region and you shouldn’t force movement. If your neck mobility is severely limited I suggest seeing a medical professional and allow them to manually work on your rotation.
There you have the cervical rotation test.
In the next couple of mobility screening posts, we will test the glutes with the Bridge with extension test and then lower body rotation with the Seated Trunk Rotation and Lower Quarter Rotation tests.
This is the seventh of sixteen screens.
To find links to the other mobility screens go to Put the Horse in Front of the Cart and Get With the Fitness Program, they’re listed near the bottom of the post.
If you think someone else might be interested in these mobility screens, use the social share buttons along the left side of the article to share with your friends. If you would like to follow me on social media, I’m on the sites below.
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