Spine Rotations

By | January 22, 2015

Look at the rotation that Hogan achieves in this famous photograph of his famous one iron shot from the fairway on the 18th hole at US Open at Merion in 1950.  What makes this all the more remarkable was that this was after his near fatal car accident a year earlier.

Look at the rotation that Hogan achieves in this photograph of his famous one iron shot from the fairway on the 18th hole at US Open at Merion in 1950. What makes this all the more remarkable was that this was after his near fatal car accident a year earlier.

Spinal rotation takes place only in the thoracic spine because the facet joints there are tangential, whereas the facet joints in the lumbar spine are radial, directly blocking rotation. While the muscles producing spinal rotation are not as strong as those producing spinal extension their importance in sports such as baseball, tennis and golf are impressive. This is because when couple with pelvic rotation, spinal rotation can cover more than 180 degrees whereas spinal flexion and extension can cover 120 degrees at best. Add to this the lever arm created by the upper extremities and the ability to slowly accelerate an object be it a baseball bat or a golf club to great speeds is amazing. Injuries increase with age as the flexibility of the thoracic cage begins to diminish and weekend warriors attempt to substitute lumbar rotation for thoracic rotation. The number of facet injuries that I see at Schlesinger Pain Centers in amateur golfers is amazing. The pain begins as simple arthritis, but as damage to the facet joints continues and the joints become incompetent you begin to see anterior and posterior translational movement and as we said in the blog on Flexion and Extension spinal cord and nerve root compression come quickly. The answer is a concerted program of stretches or yoga to restore thoracic flexibility and lower back exercise to stabilize the lumbar spine.


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