Do You Need More Rotation? Use the Seated Trunk Rotation Test to Find Out.
Do you need more rotation in your golf swing?
Most golfers would answer that question with a resounding “Yes.”
It’s almost gospel that more rotation and a longer backswing will generate more power so you can hit the golf ball farther.
Additional shoulder rotation doesn’t come without possible penalties, though, such as mis-hit balls, wild slices, and nasty hooks.
Power in your golf swing can come from different segments of your body, for instance, compare J.B. Homes swing to Bubba Watson’s.
Therefore it’s a good idea to know how much rotation you currently do possess and where the rotation is occurring.
The length of your backswing (and follow-through) is the combination of hip and shoulder rotation plus arm position.
Each of those segments needs to be evaluated to determine if a mobility limitation is a problem or if that segment has reasonable mobility and the additional rotation would be easier to gain from one of the other segments.
The seated trunk rotation test evaluates the amount of rotation in the lumbar and thoracic spine segment.
The result of this mobility test will provide a rotational baseline and determine if shoulder and T-spine exercises are a priority for your workouts.
Ninth in a Series
The seated trunk rotation test is the ninth post in a series of mobility screen articles 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 and track your results as you go through the whole mobility screening process.
The Objective of the Seated Trunk Rotation Test
The aim of the seated trunk rotation test is to evaluate how much rotational mobility you have in the thoracic-lumbar spine region. Not all rotation in the golf swing comes from this region, but having separation between the lower body and upper body is important to generate speed in the golf swing.
It’s also vital to staying in golf posture during the backswing. If you can’t rotate your upper body chances are you gain further rotation by coming up out of stance and losing your posture, and this only leads to issues at impact.
Many golfers, especially middle-aged and older golfers, lack T-spine rotation. Instead, they rotate with the lower back or use their shoulders to make up for the lack of rotation. Both of these compensations can lead to injury.
Therefore, it’s important to evaluate T-spine rotation and correct any limitations before injury does occur.
How to Perform the Seated Trunk Rotation Test
The seated truck rotation test is done in two steps. The first is with a golf club held to your chest, and the second with the club behind your upper back.
For the test, you’ll need 3 golf clubs, or a couple of alignment rods and a golf club or dowel. Plus an arm-less chair or bench to sit on.
It’s also easier if you have someone else, a friend or partner, see how far you rotate during the test. Remembering all of the cues, rotating, and trying to see how far you’re turning is difficult by yourself.
- Set the bench in an area where you can turn without knocking the lamp off the end table or putting the clubhead through the television.
- Take two clubs and cross the handles at 90-degrees to each other and place them on the floor in front of the bench. These are your 45-degree lines.
- Sit on the bench so you’re in the middle of the V formed by the two golf clubs.
- Put your feet and knees together.
- Pick up the 3rd club and place it across your chest and shoulders and hold it in place with crossed arms.
- Sit up straight, head looking straight ahead and not down.
- Now rotate to the right and the left. You can move your head with your body but continue to look forward and not down.
- Have your partner look down the length of the clubs on the floor and note if the club across your shoulders rotates less than, equal to, or more than 45-degrees. Both rotating to the right and the left.
- Try not to let your shoulder influence the amount of rotation by shrugging the trailing shoulder forward.
- The club shaft should be nearly level with the floor, don’t tilt when rotating.
This part reduces the effects of the shoulders.
- Place the club behind your upper shoulders holding the club by the end with your hands. The hands shouldn’t be grabbing the shaft or clubhead, only pressing the shaft against your shoulder so it stays in one place.
- Without bending the shaft with the arms, repeat the test.
- Here is where you will notice your knees wanting to come apart to gain more rotation. Hold them together and don’t force the rotation so you tilt the club, dip a shoulder, pull the knees apart, or twist the neck to gain more rotation.
- We are testing free rotation, not forced rotation.
- Again, have your partner look down the 45-degree lines and note if you’re rotating less than, equal to, or more than 45-degrees in each direction.
We all want to pass tests, even if they are mobility tests, but the objective of the test is to evaluate free, not forced, rotation.
- Don’t strain to add more rotation.
- The club shaft needs to remain nearly level with the floor.
- Both the feet and knees need to remain together.
- Keep your back upright, don’t shrug or slump during the test.
- Your head can rotate with your body but don’t over twist your neck.
- Don’t bend the club when it’s behind your back. Hold it in place without a lot of pressure.
- Rotate three or four times you don’t need to make many extra rotations.
TMF Mobility Screening Sheet
You can download a copy of the TMF Mobility Screening Sheet immediately by pressing the button below.
I’ll explain how to mark up the sheet after you watch the seated trunk rotation test video.
On the Screening Sheet
The seated trunk rotation test is the ninth box.
We’re only concerned with how you did on the second part of the test.
Circle “Yes” to which is true for each side. Did you rotate <45-degrees, = to 45-degrees, or >45-degrees.
So why did we do the first part of the test?
To see if you use your shoulders to increase your rotation. If you turned more than five or so degrees further in the first part of the test please write that down at the bottom of the screening sheet. This is a cue for the next time you do the screen and it may mean that we need to add some stability exercises to your program.
It’s also a cue that we need to move T-spine rotation corrections into the workout sooner than later to reduce the chance of injury.
Here are three corrective exercises if you couldn’t rotate more than 45-degrees.
Open Books: Rib Cage
Resisted Chop – No Rotation to Rotation
Half-Kneeling Lift with Rotation
The Seated Trunk Rotation Test evaluates your ability to rotate your upper back. Use this test as a baseline before doing a golf conditioning program, to see if you need to work on gaining more T-spine rotation to reduce the chance of injury, or as part of a golf conditioning correction program.
This is the ninth of sixteen mobility screens.
To find links to the other eight published 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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