Thoracic Spine Exercises to Increase Your Backswing Rotation

Last updated Oct 21, 2016 | Published on Oct 18, 2016

Thoracic spine exercises are helpful to most amateur golfers that find themselves sitting in front of a computer or hunched over for the majority of the work day. 

In previous articles, I have discussed and shown videos of other thoracic spine exercises such as foam rolling extension, open books, and reach backs.

Here are a couple more exercises that will help improve your backswing rotation and have you hitting the ball farther in no time!

Thoracic Spine Exercises

When we rotate in our backswing, it is our T-spine that should account for most of the rotation. Your lower back, or lumbar spine, shouldn’t rotate but instead act more as a stabilizing joint. This isn’t to say that the lumbar spine won’t rotate a few degrees, but it shouldn’t account for the majority of turn.

I won’t discuss the T-spine much in this post; I have talked about it in a few posts and if you want more information you can read the posts linked below. Besides discussing the T-spine and why it’s important to improve mobility, the links below also contain thoracic spine exercises.

On to the Exercises

The two exercises are useful to increase the rotation of the T-spine. The first exercise is similar to Open Books, in fact, it can be used both as a precursor exercise or as a variation of Open Books. 

The second exercise adds tension and helps you gain rotation. Besides rotating the thoracic spine, this exercise also works the hip flexors and aids hip rotation. 

In all thoracic spine exercises, it’s important to breathe deeply during the exercise. Exhaling will allow your T-spine to rotate further. Many people, myself included, hold breath while exercising. This habit is hard to break and takes practice. It is a good idea to exaggerate your breathing at first, so you get in the habit of breathing while exercising. 

T-spine Rotation with Reach

Similar to Open Books, start this exercise by lying on your side with your upper leg resting on some object, so your upper leg is parallel to the floor. Use whatever you can find so your leg isn’t angled down or up. The bottom leg is out straight, and the upper leg is 90-degrees to your body and your lower leg 90-degrees to the upper leg. 

A few more 90’s here, the angle between your lower back and upper leg should be at 90-degrees. In other words, your lower back should be vertical and remain so during the exercise. 

Your arms should be extended straight out from your body and resting on top of each other. 

This is the starting position. 

Unlike Open Books where your bottom arm remains on the ground, in T-spine Rotation with Reach, the lower arm reaches up toward vertical when the upper arm rotates over to the floor behind you. 

In Open Books you are also opening up the chest. In T-spine Rotation your are concentrating on rotation at the T-spine. 

The best video I could find of this exercise was on the Functional Movement System (FMS) website. FMS is one of the leaders in mobility exercises, and TPI is based somewhat from FMS. 

I couldn’t embed the video so click here to view T-Spine Rotation with Reach.

What Did You Notice?

thoracic-spine-exercisesDid you see her butt change position?

No, it didn’t move, you could see her side torque a little, this is normal, and is the normal movement that your lower back is expected to rotate. But her pelvis and lower back remained vertical. 

This is the primary cue in this thoracic spine exercise, keep the pelvis and lower back vertical. You will feel like you need to push your upper leg down onto your resting object. This is the resistive force require for leverage to rotate your T-spine. Besides rotation of the T-spine you are working on core stability to hold your lower body still. 

Half-kneeling Elastic Arm Rotations

I first saw this exercise on Tony Gentilcore’s website. It’s a guest post by Dean Somerset on mobility exercises you’ve never done but should. He was right. 

Somewhat advanced, in that bands are used to add tension to the exercise. Nevertheless, it can be done by anyone as long as they start with less resistance.

Start by anchoring a resistance tubing slightly higher than the height of your head while kneeling. 

Kneel with your up leg closer to the anchor point so that the resistance band is anchored to your side. 

Hold your arms out in from of you with the resistance band held in the far hand. There should be some, but not a lot, of tension in the tubing. 

Now, go into pelvic tilt by tucking your tailbone under your spine. This should activate your glute, and put tension in your hip flexor. Hold that pelvic tilt throughout the exercise. 

Now, raise the far arm up over your head and rotate outward over your down knee. This will open up and stretch your chest.

This Exercise is More Like a Swing

Unlike other thoracic spine exercises, this exercise is more like a golf swing in that you rotate your hip as you rotate your T-spine. 

Rotate your T-spine until your arms are parallel to your kneeling leg. The tension in the resistance band will help you reach back. Don’t forget to repeat the process back to the starting position. 

Make sure you turn around and do the exercise with the other arm.

Don’t start with a lot of resistance. Below is a video of this exercise. 

I’d like to thank Dean for making this video and for Tony allowing me to sharing this gem of an exercise (as well as others) with you. 

T-spine Rotation

There you have it, two more thoracic spine exercises for you to add to your golf conditioning program library. 

The exercises presented and discussed in this article, as well as the other two linked articles will help you increase your T-spine rotation and lengthen your backswing while building stability in your core.

Leave me a comment below if you found these exercises helpful!

Photo Credit

Copyright: RTimages / 123RF Stock Photo

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