Golf Body-Swing Connection 1/8 - The Pelvis
Updated: Feb 15, 2019
The pelvis is a strong structure that absorbs large amounts of ground reaction forces, but is also capable of producing & transferring forces as well. Your ability to move and control the position of the pelvis is critical for optimal power transfer from the lower body to the upper body during the golf swing. 🏌🏼♂️ Let's begin by talking about posture. Imagine you are holding a 5-iron and are addressing the ball, what position is your pelvis in? 🤔 You want your pelvis to be in a neutral position. Often times players begin in an ’S-Posture’, meaning their pelvis is anteriorly tilted (forward tilted), putting their lumbar spine is in a hyper-lordosis (hyper-extended) position. Staying in this posture through the swing puts more stress on the spine and limits your range of motion. Excessive anterior pelvic tilting also decreases the acetabular joint space (hip joint space) which limits rotation in the hips…but we will talk more about that in my next post 😁
To find neutral pelvis, perform the pelvic tilt test. Begin by assuming a normal iron set up posture with your arms across your chest. Now tilt your pelvis anteriorly/forward, increasing the arch in your lumbar spine (lower back). If you are having trouble anteriorly tilting, you are most likely already in S-Posture. Now from this position, tilt your pelvis posteriorly/backward, removing the arch in your lower back. Focus on moving the pelvis in isolation, keeping the knees, legs and upper body still. Continue to anteriorly and posteriorly tilt the pelvis, finding neutral in between the two extremes.
You may notice as you posteriorly tilt, your body begins to shake. This is known as a perturbation, which tells me you can do the movement but are not able to control it (…yet 😉). Therefore you will not see that motion in the golf swing!🙅🏽♀️ Common physical causes limiting pelvic tilt include limited lumbar (low back) mobility, poor coordination, and most common of all Lower Crossed Syndrome (you can check out my previous post to see what this is!)
Pelvic Tilt Body-Swing Connection: In set up posture, the pelvis is in a neutral position or a slight forward tilt, but at impact, skilled golfers actually flatten their back and posteriorly tilt their pelvis (this increases energy transfer efficiency resulting in more power). If you do not have the ability to pelvic tilt, the body compensates with early extension & loss of posture…which often leads to toping or mishitting the ball (block shot, fade, etc.)
Next is the pelvic rotation test. In order to have an efficient transfer of energy in the golf swing, the golfer needs to be able to disassociate the lower and upper body. To perform this test, begin by assuming a normal iron set up posture with your arms across your chest, feet shoulder width apart. Now while keeping your upper body completely still, rotate the lower body (belt and below) to the left, then to the right and continue in a fluid motion. It should look like you are doing a twist with no shoulder motion. I do not want to see the hips swaying side to side or any shoulder motion. It is normal to have slight knee and leg movement, but no excessive bending or straightening.
Common physical causes limiting pelvic rotation include poor thoracic (mid back) & lumbar spine mobility, muscular or myofascial restrictions, poor hip mobility and poor thoracic stability
Pelvic Rotation Body-Swing Connection: During the downswing phase of the golf swing, proper kinematic sequencing begins with the pelvis leading, followed by the thorax, then your arms, then the club. If you are unable to disassociate your upper and lower body, this disrupts the kinematic sequence because the upper body will lead, resulting in swinging over the top, casting, scooping, and other upper body compensation characteristics which can lead to injury due to repetitive strain. I will talk about the kinematic sequence more in post 8/8.
What’s so great about these two tests?🤷♀️ The Pelvic Tilt Test and Pelvic Rotation Test are exercises in their own! Place yourself in front of a mirror and do these two exercises daily as often as you can to improve pelvic control and awareness! 👍
Remember proper posture and isolating the pelvis is key, so be honest with yourself and don’t cheat!