At the end of the round do you have back pain or maybe it’s feeling a little sore?
A cause of lower back pain in golfers is a swing characteristic called reverse spine angle.
The easiest way to tell if you have this swing characteristic is to record at a video or photo of your golf swing from the face on view and look at which way your spine is leaning at the top of your backswing.
If the middle of your head is closer to the target than the middle your waist, then you have reverse spine angle.
In other words, at the top of your backswing, the top of your spine is closer to the target than the bottom of your spine.
If the spine is leaning toward the target you have the reverse spine angle swing characteristic.
See the image below, during the backswing, the golfers head is closer to the target than the middle of his waist. The correct spinal position in the backswing is the top leaning away from the target.
This dude has the reverse spine angle swing characteristic.
Golfers with reverse spine angle have swing path issues and limited power output. Timing is everything in the golf swing and reverse spine angle disrupts timing and the efficiency of the golf swing.
This article will explain in more detail what reverse spine angle is, how common it is among golfers, how to tell if you have it, and what physical limitations cause reverse spine angle.
As a bonus, I have also created a Free Guide that lists exercises you can perform to correct the physical limitations that cause reverse spine angle.
The exercises included in the guide are linked to the Titleist Performance Insitute (TPI) video library so you can see how to perform each exercise.
Click the button below to download a free guide that contains exercises that will help you from leaning toward the target during your backswing.
What is Reverse Spine Angle
Reverse spine angle is the forward tilting of the body during the backswing. By forward, I mean the spine leans towards the target.
The forward tilting spine makes it impossible to have an efficient kinematic swing sequence and the upper body will take over the swing. Reverse pine angle can cause poor clubhead swing paths that lead to slices, hooks, and a huge loss of power and distance.
It also puts excessive tension on the lower back during the backswing as the core is unable to support the spine. At impact, the right side (for right-handers) of the spine undergoes large compressive forces that can lead to pain and injury.
Reverse spine angle is often confused with the reverse pivot. Reverse pivot is a weight shift and is not necessarily related to the angle of the spine.
How Prevalent is Reverse Spine Angle?
Reverse spine angle is fairly common, 38.5% of amateur golfers exhibit this swing characteristic. That is a pretty significant number of golfers that are losing power each and every swing.
It could also explain why a large portion of golfers complains about lower back pain. Reverse spine angle and early extension are swing characteristics that can cause not only back discomfort but a back pain that lasts long after the round of golf.
How Prevalent is Reverse Spine Angle in Amateur Golfers
How to Tell if You Have Reverse Spine Angle
The easiest way to tell if you have reverse spine angle is to look at a video recording or photo of your golf swing from the face-on view at the top of your backswing.
- Advance the video to the top of the backswing.
- Draw a line from the middle of your head to the middle of your waist. This is the spine angle.
- If the line is leaning towards the target (top of the line is closer to target than the bottom of the line), you have reverse spine angle.
The camera needs to be centered on your body. Off angle shots will distort the actual angle of the spine.
The first photo was taken from a video published by Ryan Kennedy. The golfer is Frank Cheung.
I have drawn a line drawn from the middle of his waist to the middle of his head at the top of the backswing. Notice that the line leans towards the target. Frank’s spine angle in this photo is top to the right at 83-degrees.
This is a reverse spine angle swing characteristic.
In the second photo, the picture is of me, and the line is leaning away from the target. The spine angle in this image is 82-degrees top away from the target. This is the correct spine orientation at the top of the backswing.
Reverse Spine Angle Swing Characteristic
With this swing characteristic, the upper body will dominate the swing because the lower body can’t start the downswing due to its position at the top of the backswing.
Because the body is out of position, the golfers swing kinematics and timing will be off kilter.
When the lower body is restricted in the golf swing there is a significant loss of power and distance.
Golf swings that start with the upper body have a tendency to be inconsistent. In a way, it is like pushing a rope. It’s hard to direct the position of the arms when you are pushing them through the ball. When the legs pull the arms down through the ball it’s much easier to have better ball striking.
The worst aspect of reverse spine angle is it often causes lower back pain and can lead to injury.
When the upper body is leaning toward the target the lumbar spine (lower spine) has to twist or bend in the transverse plane at speeds and forces greater than it’s designed to handle.
Pain is never good.
Physical Causes of Reverse Spine Angle
In order for your shoulders to rotate around your spine in the correct, you need to be able to separate movement from the upper and lower body.
Many golfers can’t do this and it can cause reverse spine angle.
Limited T-spine mobility and poor lat flexibility is often the cause of separation issues.
To see if you can separate upper and lower body movements and test the flexibility of your lats, try the seated truck rotation test, the lat length test, torso rotation test, and the pelvic rotation test.
Right-handed golfers also need good right hip internal rotation (left-handers left hip rotation) in order for the body to rotate around that hip. Otherwise, the force of the backswing will cause the spine to tilt backward. The lower quarter rotation test will evaluate your internal hip rotation.
Undergo a Physical Screen
It is best if you have a certified Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) Fitness Professional show you how to perform the physical screens and observe the tests.
I also have a Swing Analysis Program where you send me videos of your swing and I evaluate them for swing characteristics, return the results, and provide you with exercises to correct the limitations.
Or, if you live in Upstate New York I have an in Home TPI Screening Service.
If you have the reverse spine angle swing characteristic, don’t worry.
There are exercises that will increase your mobility, flexibility, and strength. I’ve prepared a free guide listing those exercises for you!
Each exercise is linked to a video to show you the proper way to do the exercise correctly.
Click the button below and enter your first name and e-mail address so I can e-mail you the Free Reverse Spine Angle Correction Exercise Guide.
The Other Swing Characteristics
Want more information about swing characteristics?
There are 11 other characteristics and you can get a summary of each characteristic and see the percentage of golfers that have those swing characteristics by clicking the button below.
Swing Assessment Program
Are you slicing or hooking the golf ball? Do you think your swing is costing you distance? Are the common swing faults, like early extension, over the top, and loss of posture costing you frustration and strokes?
Did you know that your golf swing can provide clues to swing faults?
Using two videos of your golf swing recorded with your smartphone, I can identify which of the swing characteristics you may possess.
I have developed a Swing Assessment Program to assist in determining swing faults. Correct swing faults with simple corrective exercises.
Use the buttons below to learn more.
The "Learn More" button will take you to a page on this website that describes the program in detail.
The "Visit Course Website" button will take you to the area of my website where I host my golf conditioning programs.
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