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Pain Free Golfing

Side Plank

Welcome to Pain Free Golfing. My name is Paul Morrissey, registered osteopath, and with my colleague, Kate Leadbetter, chartered physiotherapist, we would like to share some ideas, stretches and exercises to assist you and keep you in a pain-free state, improve your stability and maybe even improve your golf. I’m sure you’ve read the article “All Gain, No Pain”. However, if any of these exercises do produce any symptoms, pain of any kind, I would suggest that you consult your health-care practitioner immediately.

Welcome to Pain Free Golfing. Our first exercise is a side plank. Professionally, I see this exercise me inpatients unfortunately. I’d just like to run over some of the fundamentals. The first part of this exercise, I’d like to ensure that people are in a neutral position. You do feel that your pelvis and a neutral spine, you’re long through the back of the neck. From this position here, I’m going to ask you to lift your hips upon a diagonal. We just do this modification at the side plank and then we slowly lower. Now, the essence of this exercise is one that I’m trying to encourage stability through the scapulothoracic area and through the trunk. The trunk is dictating all of the movements. You’re breathing using your diaphragm, as we’ve mentioned previously in all the exercises. That’s the control.

For sure, once you’ve gained control of this area, do a standard plank and then there are all sorts of modifications that we can do that challenge various types of movement within the plank. However, essentially, I’m of the opinion that the scapulothoracic area linked to a stable trunk in a neutral is the most important thing during this exercise. I think holding count of 30 seconds should be your target to start off with. If you get any shoulder pain from this, go back to the original modification, which you should find very helpful, lifting the hips in a diagonal, being stable through the back of the shoulder and long through the back of the neck.

Bridging in neutral with pelvic tilt

The second exercise in Pain Free Golf is the bridging with a modification. I’m doing this in a neutral spine and with a posterior tilt. Essentially, we’re in our neutral spine. I am pressing our feet into the floor and extending on a diagonal and slowly lowering in a neutral position. Sometimes this exercise is done in training shoes and I think we miss out on an awful lot when we’re in training shoes. We need to be in bare feet, so much more proprioceptive information in your bare feet about what’s going on. If the foot goes on to the lateral board, as is often the case, you miss out the connection with your pelvic floor, your diaphragm and your adductor muscle group.

The essence of the exercise is under control of the diaphragm, you’re lengthening away in your neutral position and slowly lower. The ideal time holding counts in this exercise should be done on a single leg is 30 seconds, so you hold this position making sure that your pelvis is not moving at all. It’s still in this neutral position. As I said, it should be ideally 30 seconds holding count and come back down. As we get better with the movement, we can hold it longer. The important thing is that the knee doesn’t abduct. We can challenge the whole movement by feeling that the foot is pressing into the floor, you’re strong through the spine and you just lengthen away.

The pressure you should feel through your posterior chain, you’re stable and you can stay here 30 seconds plus. You can modify this exercise by putting a Swiss ball under the supporting leg and various props can be added to this under the working leg to facilitate further activity and stress is on these areas.


My name’s Kate. I’ve been working as a physiotherapist for a number of years and I have a special interest within golf. Mobility is the fundamental aspect of golf. Not only does it help to improve you have a long distance but it also helps to improve accuracy, consistency, and also to prevent injury. Today I’m going to talk about a stretch to help improve your back swing and improve the ability to maintain a straight arm through the backs swing. This can be a stretch that can be used within the warm up to help with your game afterwards.

With the stretch you need to place your left arm out in front of you. Rotate your chest towards your left elbow, bend your knees, and move your left leg behind you and around. Increase that stretch and feel that you can be shaped. This is stretch in the fascia of your left shoulder, your latissimus dorsi, down into your lower back and into your gluteus. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds. Do it two times each side and do this as I said previously prior to playing the game.

Strength and Stability

The next exercise incorporates base strength and stability. You can hold on to your golf club or your stretch pole and place you arms out in front of you. Launch forwards with one leg and you drop your back and knee down, and show that your knee doesn’t move out too far in front of your toes and keep your pelvis facing forwards. As you launch down move your arms out to the side towards the leg that you’re launching. Bring your arms back and then step back.

The next level up would be to hold on to your golf club bring your arms forwards, launch forwards and dropping your knee down. Move your arms out towards the leg that you’ve launched forwards and then around to the other direction. Bring your arms back and step backwards. You could do this 12 times on each leg or you could as you find this comfortable to do this to fatigue and do these three sets. You could do this about three to four times a week to build up the strength.

Multiplanar strengthening and power

As a golfer you work through multi planes of movement. It’s very important to have the correct amount of strength and power to maintain this. I’m going to now show you a reverse wood chop with a squat. It’s important if you have to do this movement that you need to have a good squat position to start with. So ensure that your feet shoulder width apart, as you squat down it’s important to maintain a good position of your spine and to move your bottom backwards. Keep your knees in line with your toes and don’t allow them to come in.

Now, we’re going to move on to the movement. Hold on to your medicine ball, you’re going to squat down and place it towards your right foot. As you come back up you’re going to keep pelvis nice and aligned and bring your arm up. Keeping this hip very still and align this pelvis to thrust. So I’m going to show you the movement again. So you’re going to squat down, bring your arm up and it bring it up and then … and again you can do this eight to 12 times to start with. If you’re finding that that’s comfortable you can increase it to fatigue and do that three times again about three to four times a week.


This is exercise number 6 in our Pain Free Golfing. Now I’m endorsing a product by a good friend of mine and colleague, Dave Herman, SuperFlex Bands dot com. These bands are rather unique. I use them personally and professionally in order to help me with my golf, help stabilize some of my joints and I recommend these wholeheartedly to my patients. I’m going to show some of the exercises that I use and I think you’ll enjoy them.

Okay, in this position, I’m in a bridge. I’m abducting my hips and so I’m hitting my posterior chain and glute med and I’m performing a bench press. How neat is that? Very stable, you can rip it. From here, I’m going to triceps extension. Again, wonderful exercise, linking my trunk, posterior chain. Wonderful. Again, challenging the movement to get the back of my shoulder and triceps.

With this move now, with the assist of the stretch pole, we can develop this into a simple squat. Eccentrically and then explosive concentric, say 3 counts down, 1 count up. Bring this into some sort of rotatory preparatory movement of the golf swing. Again conversely, we can lead with the hip going left, but then rotate towards the target line. There’s an abundance of exercises with this. Further, we can use just some shoulder work, stable for the core. Make sure your breastbone’s over your pubis. Wonderful.

This is one of my favourite areas, warming up the shoulders and the rotator cuff muscles. Now, as in all exercise, we need to make sure we’re in a good functional position, neutral spine, breastbone is forward of the pubis. Now we make a very long circumduction movement, shoulders aimed to the opposite hip pockets, the shoulder blades slide down aiming to the opposite hip pocket, while demonstrating this movement, leading straight into some cuff exercises. The cuff can be combined into some functional golf movements and patterns.

We can also go into more of a traditional mode of exercise, external rotation and just watch that the elbow isn’t stuck to the side of a side, bending the spine and compressing everything here. So, like a free movement, shoulders aiming to the opposite hip pocket, we’re in a good posture and we’re simply external rotating. Now, we can adapt this. Hip against the wall, keep square with the sternum long through the back of the neck and externally rotate like so, eccentrically loading this area seems to be a winner, so maybe 3 counts down, 1 count up.

There’s just so, so many variables with this. You can stretch, you can strengthen. You can work on speed. For sure, this is a great investment, so well done, David. You’ve got a great product here.


The very last exercise, exercise number 7 in Pain Free Golf has to do with posture and I want to share some ideas with you. Now, we have to remember that the spine is made up of 3 distinct curves and quite often in golf, we don’t see that. Unfortunately, we see some poor postural setups and it’s not just because the golf pro says your posture’s important. Posture is so, so important, particularly in the golf swing. Now, I think some good ideas are that we know we have to have a small arch along the spine, but more often than not, we see people today in this big kyphosis and simply they lose their neck.

We have to think that there’s a lordosis in the neck. That again encourages a stress free environment on your joints, which should be in a golf setup sort of scenario so that we could actually jump and we can move. We certainly don’t want to be straight legged, tucked under, shoulders forward, trying to swing a golf club, because then you’ll be seeing somebody like me forever.

I think a great tip is getting this neutral spine that we talk about, so you’re tucking under and you’re extending, so you’re in a halfway pose and this is a very safe position for your spine. Then making sure your breastbone, you pitch slightly forward. Your breastbone is forward of your pubis, not behind and your neck, the back of the neck is long and that’s a great sort of concept for posture. Your shoulders then will sit on a very healthy thoracic spine. The shoulder blades are supposed to sit in velvet pockets, so they should be soft. Everything should be congruent in a forward healthy movement.

Finally, with regards to posture, let’s see if we can get away from this flexed, protracted sort of posture that we see walking down the fairway, carrying your golf clubs, shoulders are forward. No neck sort of scenario.

The physiologists, everybody tells us that if we open this pathway, we’re going to perceive so much more information. Our brain will take in so much more information. If you’re walking down the fairway, back of the neck long, breastbone lifted. It’s a very healthy efficient position to be in. Teach your brain this new found posture. It’s extremely efficient. It will do you no end of good and not least, it’s going to help your golf. Enjoy.

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