Neck Mobility Creates A Lot of Headaches For A Lot of Golfers
The neck is one of the most under-looked places – or in other words, it’s forgotten about by most golfers unless they’re presently having neck pain or a kink in the neck.
Limited neck rotation can create many problems for the average golfer and it can lead to a lot of different “swing faults” – or “bad” golf swing tendencies (watch this video for more information).
Frankly, the neck is going to determine a lot of what’s going to happen in your golf swing – and there is a lot of bad advice out there to do “this” and to do “that” in your golf swing that will create PROBLEMS for your swing and for your neck. An example of this is the idea of “keep your head down and keep it still” in your golf swing. “Don’t let your head move”. This will likely create other problems in the swing and will likely lead to neck injuries.
In case you haven’t heard, we have a FREE golf flexibility workshop coming up tomorrow – July 20th (Thursday) at 6pm. This will be a 2 hour workshop talking about all things flexibility related with the golf swing and practical ways that you can improve your own flexibility for your swing. You can register your spot here.
TESTING NECK Range of motion
To check your flexibility of your neck, simply sit in a chair, turn your head as far as you can to your left, keeping your mouth closed, can you touch your chin to the middle part of your collarbone? Then test the right side. Do you pass this test? Check this blog article to see!
Essentially, are you able to turn your head 70 degrees to the left and to the right? Be honest! This is a common area for people to feel their neck tighten up, or feel like it gets stuck/kinked from going any further. This test can really expose whether you have a problem with your backswing or into your downswing with how well you can rotate (turn) your neck.
Right versus left, the most important direction to pass in this rotational center is whichever side allows you to see the ball in your backswing (for right handed players, this is left neck turn mobility, and the opposite for left handed players).
If you have trouble with this test, this is a big deal for longevity as a golfer. Lacking mobility here can lead to lower back injuries as well because of compensations that will likely happen in your golf swing.
This test, however, is the test that is PASSED by the majority of golfers. If you have problems here, they need to be addressed before it leads to an injury or a bad swing pattern that is very hard for you to get out of.
what can we do to improve our neck mobility?
We will likely need to look back at the thoracic spine and shoulders. We need to be able to expand our ribcage well with our breath. Yes, you read that right. It may seem strange, but a really rigid ribcage will impact how well the spine can turn and it will affect how well your neck can turn as a result since A LOT of muscles from the upper back connect to the neck vertebrae in some way or another.
Forward head posture is also something that will commonly be a problem and this will be addressed when we work on loading the upper extremity (think shoulder and shoulder blade) combining neck movements with proper breathing mechanics. Some correctional exercises may also be needed depending on the degree of your forward head posture.
Sometimes, hands-on work (manual therapy) or tools like dry needling may be effective in “resetting” overactive muscles in the neck and in the upper trap regions. This may be appropriate for you, but you may do just as well with only exercises.
Your solution for your flexibility problem depends on how you move specifically – but a good area to begin with is building up mobility in the thoracic spine and stability through the lower back and core regions. Then, depending on your shoulder flexibility and stability, we would build on this area and how the shoulder blade moves over the ribcage (think your lead arm in your backswing and your trail arm in your downswing). Neck mobility will be directly affected by these areas. If there is pain present – this NEEDS to be addressed by a physical therapist first before doing general exercises.
If you haven’t already, checkout our GOLF HOME ASSESSMENT to see where you match to other golfers like you.
Remember to start working on improving your flexibility/mobility and strength little by little – you don’t need to do an hour of exercises each day. Start small with what you can consistently do for 5-10 minutes each day. Consistency over time with the right exercises will lead to improvements and results. If you can get 45 minutes a week working on your spine (preferably not at one time, but spread out throughout the week), that’s all you will need to start seeing results!
Losing flexibility is something that DEFINITELY happens as we get older — BUT a lot of your flexibility problems can actually be prevented from being so extreme.
The question is: what are you going to do about it?
Chances are, in the past 4 articles, we’ve likely revealed a limitation that you have in your 4 rotational centers. What have you done to improve these areas?
If you’re not sure where you stand with your mobility still, I highly recommend checking out our home assessment to find out where you stand compared to other golfers with your rotational mobility – this will help you to understand what areas you need to improve in flexibility and mobility.
If you’re currently in pain or dealing with tightness – give us a call and let’s see how we can best help you get out pain and resolve the tightness you’re having with life or with your golf swing.
Dr. Grant Bishop, PT DPT, TPI Certified
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