Monthly Archives: June 2014

Elite Physical Therapy Exercise of the Week – Standing Trunk Rotation for Golfers

Originally posted on

It’s that time of year when we’re all going to start seeing more golfers coming in with injuries. The standing thoracic rotation assessment is one I picked up from TPI a few years ago, and what I’ve found is that is often a difficult pattern for many golfers to manage. This main objective of this movement is to look at the golfer’s ability to separate the trunk and hips, but what is often overlooked is the ability of the golfer to maintain cervical stability with trunk rotation.

The golfer is to assume a 5 iron posture – pretend you have a five iron addressing the ball – cross the arms over the chest, and then rotate the trunk as far as possible in each direction while stabilizing the pelvis and hips. There is no set ROM requirement in the assessment as it meant to look at the ability to stabilize and separate the upper and lower body, but I’d still like to see at least 45 degrees of rotation in each direction.

The other big thing to look at here is the ability of the golfer to keep his head down on the ball. This requires a significant amount of cervical spine rotation as the trunk moves ‘under’ the neck. As you can probably see in the video, its quite a chore for me to maintain this posture.

Obviously the qualities will improve the mechanics of the golf swing and contribute to more consistent accuracy. An inability to maintain optimal posture and control throughout the swing will not only be detrimental to the swing but can also create undo stress on the cervical spine, shoulders, and lumber spine.

Assessing cervical ROM and stability is crucial but often overlooked in this population, and it seems like I end up treating a few of these folks every summer. Establishing full ROM is the first step and then working motor control back into rotational patterns at lower postures is a prerequisite.

Poor trunk rotation mobility and motor control can also take it’s toll on the shoulders. The shoulders can be forced into excessive ranges of motion during the back swing and follow through, and over time can lead to injury here as well.

I recently assessed a high school golfer with bilateral congenital shoulder instability who was having shoulder pain during his swing. He was mobile as could be through his spine but was lacking proper control in standing thereby over reaching through the shoulders. Improving control in this standing patten went a long way toward eliminating his pain during the golf swing.

Standing trunk rotation with pelvic stabilization can be a great assessment for your golfers, as well as other rotational athletes, and can also be used as a corrective or warm-up activity.