Golf Distance and X-factor

When I start working with a golfer the first thing that I ask them is “What are your goals?” I have worked with a lot of golfers, and every single one has said “More distance” as one of their main goals. Increasing distance is as simple as increasing separation between your hips and shoulders, or X-factor. Obviously easier said than done, but achievable for every golfer from scratch to a high handicap. Let me help you get there.

X-factor is a big term in the golf fitness and golf instruction world, and all it means is how much can you separate your hips from your shoulders. If you want to hit the ball a far way though, you better be sure you create this magical x-factor at the right moment in your golf swing.

image3.png

Most golfers focus on making a full turn and getting to the top of their backswing. As you can see from the picture from Me and My Golf (great group by the way for instruction) at the top of the backswing you want about 45 degrees of separation between your shoulders and hips. The golfers that I work with can get to that position, but they sacrifice separation. What I mean by that is they get to the 90 degree turn with their shoulders, but have way more than 45 degrees of turn with their hips. So if you want to increase your distance start with creating more twist in your body. My absolute favorite exercise for that is an open book stretch.

image1 (1).png

If you really want to improve your distance though, you have to be sure that you increase your x-factor as you start your downswing. The big hitters in golf start at that 45 degrees number for separation at the top of the backswing, but then increase it to 50-55 degrees as they start the downswing. Most golfers that I work with who can create the right amount of x-factor that the top of the backswing then throw it away by starting their downswing with their arms. This is a hard feel for most golfers to get though. Well no worries my friends, I’ve got you covered. Try this exercise. All you need is a piece of tubing, or something elastic (could be a bungee cord).

Honestly, in my personal opinion, it’s much more important to start the downswing the right way than it is to create a bigger x-factor. Look at the long hitters on the PGA (John Rahm and Tony Finau) and the top of their backswing position.

Screenshot (346).png

It looks like they are taking a half swing! What you don’t see is how much separation they create as they start their swing with their hips. That is where the power is created that sends that ball a far way down the fairways.

So if you want to increase your distance you need to increase your stretch, and start your swing with your hips. I hope that helps you to make this golf season your best season.

OrthoCore Physical Therapy is here to help you get in the swing of your season! Contact us or make an appointment right here on our website!






Golfer's Elbow

It’s Masters Week!!! If you are a golfer like me then this is basically the Super Bowl. It is also a very exciting time of year because, in the Northern part of the country, it’s the unofficial start to the golf season. Most golfers are dusting off the clubs and heading out to the course. Taking those first couple of swings feels great! Some of you though, won’t get through the first round without that pesky elbow pain coming back. You’ve gone all winter without any issues and the second you pick up your clubs the pain comes back. Well let’s make this golf season the first one that you get to play pain free.

So before we get into fixing your elbow, let’s talk about why you get elbow pain in the first place. Golfers elbow is pain on the inner portion of your trail arm. For a right handed golfer it would be pain in your right elbow.

image4.png

This pain comes from, what is called, casting the club from the top of the backswing. Rather than starting your downswing with your lower body. You are throwing the club at the top of the swing and letting your wrists break down before impact. This will overuse your wrist flexors which attach at that point in your elbow. The overuse, coupled with the impact of the ground, leads to a strain of the tendons and inflammation.

Screenshot (334).png

Now that you know what causes the pai, let’s talk about how to fix it. Like I said earlier, your elbow pain is coming from a swing fault. Think of how many times you swing the club in a round (don’t forget to include your practice swings). That is a lot of repetitions. I always tell my clients to think of it like a bruise in your elbow you can’t see. Every swing you take is like poking the bruise. It will never get better until you stop poking it.

What you need to focus on, is starting your swing with your hips from the top of the backswing. The best way to do this, in my opinion, is to feel like you are pausing at the top of your backswing. Once you pause, feel like you are twisting your hips towards your target and let your arms pause behind you. That delay will ensure you are starting your swing with your hips.

Now we need to talk about what your hands are doing at impact. Make sure your wrists don’t break down at impact. What I tell my clients to do with that is feel like the palm of your trail hand (right hand for right handed golfer) is covering the ball at impact.

image1.png

If you can do those two things I can guarantee you won’t have elbow pain this season. I can also guarantee you will start to notice an improvement in your handicap. Everyone wins! If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Happy Masters Week Everyone!!!





How to Increase Hip Mobility for Golf

The PGA season has begun and, if you’re anything like me, those golf juices are flowing! It has been at least two months since I have swung a golf club (thanks polar vortex). The off season is great for recovery but it’s also a great excuse to get lazy with your fitness program. It’s very easy to get stiff over the colder months because we don’t move as much. This stiffness can rob your golf swing of consistency and power. The biggest area of your body that is responsible for power in your golf swing is your hips. So let’s get those joints moving and get this season rolling!

When you swing a golf club your hips/pelvis to internally and externally rotate about 60 degrees in each direction. As a golfer, when you go to the top of your backswing you need internal rotation of your trail hip, and external rotation of your lead hip. In your downswing you reverse those movements. A restriction in either hip, in either movement, can lead to swing faults. No matter what the fault may be, it will definitely lead to inconsistencies in your golf swing.

Another problem with poor hip mobility is a guaranteed loss of power and distance. If you want to be able to hit the ball a far way you have to be able to spin fast. When we start our downswing we actually push down into the ground with our feet. The earth is just a little bit larger and stronger than us so it pushes back and creates what is called ground reaction force (hello physics!). Now before I lose you in all my golf swing dork talk let me simplify things. For 99% of the world, our legs are the strongest part of our body (not this guy, do you even leg day bro?).

image1 (1).png

When we push into the ground, all that energy that is created gets pushed up the legs towards our abdominals. The pelvis turns that energy into torque. The more torque that is created, the faster we spin, and the harder we hit the ball. If we have a restriction in how much our hips and pelvis can twist we can’t create as much torque and we don’t hit the ball as far as we possibly can. Make sense?

Now that I have completely confused you with talk of physics, torque, power, blah, blah, blah let me just tell you what to do about it. Here is my favorite hip mobility exercise for golf. You can perform this stretch multiple times a day. Just be careful if you have any pain in your hips and/or in your knees. If you are consistent with performing this stretch, your mobility will increase, and you will be hitting that ball farther down the fairways before you know it.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us here at OrthoCore. Enjoy the last month of the off season and use it to get your body ready for the upcoming season.



When it Comes to Swing Length Size Really Does Matter, and Shorter is Better

Something that always comes up when I’m working with my golfers is their backswing length. Many golfers, and teachers, think that it’s vital to get to the top of their backswing, and get the golf club parallel to the ground. While I don’t disagree that players need to get to a good position at the top of the backswing, I do think that everyone has a unique backswing point. That point is very dependent upon how much flexibility you have.

How Many Degrees Do You Need?

Most professional golfers have 60 degrees of rotation in their shoulders, and 60 degrees of rotation in their hips. If you add those up it’s 120 degrees of rotation that is available (I know, difficult math). Now, you don’t need 120 degrees of rotation to get to the top of a “normal” backswing (lets just use parallel to the ground as a point of reference). You only need about 90 degrees of rotation to get there. There are two problems that most amateur golfers are faced with though. 1: They don’t have even close to 90 degrees of rotation. 2: If they do, that still isn’t enough.

Some of you are probably saying “what the heck! You just said I only need 90 degrees to get to the top of my backswing.” Let’s look back at those numbers though. Pro’s have 120 degrees and you only need 90 degrees to get to the top. That gives us a 30 degree difference (I know, hard math again). The pro golfer will get to the top of their backswing and then start the swing with their hips without moving their shoulders. That gives a greater stretch through the trunk and shoulders, and requires those extra degrees of rotation to prevent the shoulders from coming along for the ride. This gives them power and consistency with their swing.

So What Does an Amateur Do?

If you don’t have 120 degrees of rotation all is not lost. You should certainly do some stretching to improve your rotation if you don’t. What I do with my golfers is find the spot in their swing where they can still move their hips in the downswing. From there we use the K-vest system for biofeedback to memorize where that point is and prevent their swing from getting too long. It also helps them to coordinate the start of the downswing with their hips vs. their arms like most do. Once they do the flexibility exercises and improve their rotation we can continue to lengthen the swing without affecting the power and consistency they have created.

If you don’t have a fancy K-vest system but still want to find the correct length of your backswing watch this video.

The biggest thing to look for is the ability to start your hips without your arms. I always err on the side of short. You will be surprised how short you can make your swing and still hit the ball a far distance.

I hope this helps to improve your power and consistency with your golf swing. If you have any questions please contact me. Visit OrthoCore and learn more or make an appointment. Enjoy your new shorter, more powerful, swing.