Any golfer that has read a golf instruction magazine knows that being able to disassociate the upper body from the lower body will provide more power in the golf swing.
Commonly this power aspect is called the X-factor, in reality, it’s the angle of disassociation between the shoulders and hips.
The larger the X-factor, or the more you can disassociate your upper and lower body, the farther you’ll hit the golf ball with all other factors remaining the same.
Usually, you see the X-factor displayed in a top-down image with lines drawn through the hips and shoulders at the top of the backswing and the X-factor is the acute angle between the lines (Image from Studio Pilates).
You’d think that the largest angle between the shoulders and hips would be at the top of the backswing. But this isn’t the case, in an efficient golf swing, the hips actually turn toward the target first in the downswing; this creates more of an angle and thusly a larger X-factor.
To make this first hip movement in the downswing, you need to able to disassociate movement between the shoulders and hips.
The question you need to ask yourself is, can I disassociate?
Do you have the ability to separate movement between your upper body and lower body?
To answer that question, this article will show you the first of two mobility & stability screens, the Torso Rotation Test, and the Pelvic Rotation Test that will evaluate your ability to disassociate your upper and lower body.
This article describes the steps and contains a video on how to perform the Torso Rotation Test. A later post will describe the Pelvic Rotation Test.
The Torso Rotation Test
The Torso Rotation Test evaluates your ability to separate movement between your upper and lower body. In the screen, you’ll try to rotate your shoulders while keeping your lower body and head in one place.
If you have problems keeping your lower body still while the upper body rotates, the screen can also help determine if the issue is a mobility problem or if you lack the stability in your lower body.
Not sure what mobility and stability are in the golf swing? Follow this link to an article explaining the difference between flexibility, mobility, and stability.
Fourteenth in a Series
The Torso Rotation Test is the fourteenth post in a series of mobility screening articles for golfers.
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 links to the other published mobility screens are listed below. Click here to view them.
How to Perform the Torso Rotation Test
It’s best if you can grab your partner or friend to help you with the second part of this test. Tell them not to stress, all they will have to do is hold your hips in place.
If you can easily pass the first part of the torso rotation test you won’t need any help, but I still think it’s a good idea to try the second part so you can see how much easier it is to rotate your upper body when you have more stability.
Okay, let’s get started on the Torso Rotation Test.
- Take your normal 5-iron posture, that athletic position with your ankles and knees slightly bent, hinging at the hip, and arms hanging straight down.
- Your feet should be shoulder-width apart.
- Place your arms across your chest while remaining in golf posture.
- Now, rotate your shoulders to the left and right while keeping your lower body and head in one place.
- This isn’t a range of motion test, so don’t try to over-rotate, only turn 4- to 6-inches. If you can rotate farther great, but the point is to only be able to move your upper body around your spine while keeping your lower body and head still.
- Your shoulders should turn like they are in a barrel. The upper body shouldn’t sway at all.
- If you drew vertical lines on the outside of your hips, they shouldn’t touch those lines when your shoulders are rotating.
- Your spine is an axis and the shoulders are turning around that axis.
- In the video, you’ll see that Keith’s upper body moves while he turns his shoulders. To pass the test, neither the lower body or head should move.
- Another reason to have a partner to help you with your screen is your head should remain looking at the imaginary golf ball, not to the side, or in a mirror to see if your moving.
- Head movement can be hard to tell by yourself. Ask your partner if it’s moving.
- Again, you only pass this part of the test if the only part of your body moving is your shoulders around your spine.
If you passed this part of the test you’re done (I’d still like to see you do the second part of the screen). Mark your mobility screening sheet as explained in the video below. However, if you had some problems, we’ll move on to the second part of the test.
The second part of the test will evaluate why you can’t keep still. Whether it’s because you have a T-spine mobility limitation, or if you need to add lower body stability. This part of the torso rotation test helps you narrow down possible causes so you can focus on fixing those limitations.
The second part is completed as in the first part with the exception that your partner will be holding your hips.
- Get into the same crossed arm stance.
- Have your partner get behind you and grasp your hips with their hands and firmly push inward and downward on your hips. It’s best if their fingers are on the front side of your hips and the thumbs on the backside.
- Their job is to hold your lower body in place as much as possible. However, if you have a mobility limitation, it’s unlikely that they will be able to hold your lower body in place.
- Even if you passed the first part of this test, you’ll find it easier to rotate with the extra stability of your partner holding your hips in place. But for those that didn’t pass the question is:
- Did the extra stability stop the lower body from moving or the upper body from swaying?
- If during the second part of the test, you could keep your lower body and head still, then you have a lower body (or core) stability issue or you can’t control the muscles responsible to hold your lower body still. This is a motor control issue.
- However, if the movement continued, then most likely you have a T-spine mobility limitation.
- Mark your TMF Mobility Screening Sheet as directed in the video.
TMF Mobility Screening Sheet
You can download a copy of the TMF Mobility Screening Sheet by pressing the button below and entering your name and e-mail, and I’ll deliver it to your inbox.
The Video Below Shows and Explains the Torso Rotation Test
Corrections for the Torso Rotation Test
The number of corrective exercises is huge because of the failure to perform the test can be an upper back mobility limitation or a lower body and core stability problem.
Below are three exercises that should help you improve your torso rotation and lower body stability.
The first is an excellent plank workout. I’ve referenced this workout several times, but that is only because I think it’s one of the best.
This workout will not only help with lower body and core stability but upper body stability as well.
Standing Arm Turns
The standing arm turns helps stability in the lower body and T-spine rotation. I like to use an FMT band for this exercise because it’s much longer than the normal resistance bands.
If you don’t have an FMT band, I’d recommend you get one as they are one of the most useful pieces of gym equipment used for golf conditioning. You can purchase the band from Amazon here.
Split Stance Torso Rotation
A challenging exercise that will show you where problems exist, whether they be balance, stability, and your ability to rotate in either direction.
Again, this is an exercise that helps lower body stability and T-spine rotation.
The Torso Rotation Test evaluates your ability to rotate your upper body while keeping the lower body stable, in a word this is dissociation.
In the golf swing, it’s important to be able to move one part of your body while other parts remain in place, whether for stability or position.
Use this test as a baseline before doing a golf conditioning program to see if you need to improve your ability to dissociate, and if the cause is a mobility issue in your T-spine, lower body & core stability, or motor control of your body.
Knowing possible issues will allow you to improve your swing, add distance, and reduce the chance of injury.
This is the fourteenth of sixteen mobility screens.
You can read more about why mobility screens are a vital part of any golf conditioning program in Put the Horse in Front of the Cart and Get With the Fitness Program.
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