The hinge movement I’m referring to is that of hip flexion and the movement should occur without any movement in the spine whether at the lumbar, thoracic or cervical areas. So when we hinge the torso should be fixed and all the movement should occur at the hips. In the picture below Adam Scott has gone from a more flexed position through the lumbar and thoracic area with an extended cervical position to having a more neutral position.
Dan John talks a lot about this movement and it’s role in athletic performance and in this clip shows us how to perform it.
So how does this relate to your golf swing? If you hinge correctly from the hips keeping the chin tucked you do a number of things. First off you ensure that you are viewing the ball at an angle that means that you can see it in the centre of your vision and therefore are getting the greatest amount of information possible in terms of the position of the ball throughout the entire swing. Why is this important? If you lose depth perception through the swing you may make adjustments that aren’t required or fail to make ones that are all because you can’t see the ball properly. Secondly if you are unnecessarily flexing or extending through the spine you are creating tension which will cause you to loose the ability to rotate fully and smoothly will be lost. Flexing or extending through an area of the spine will reducing your ability to fully maximise your ability to rotate through the swing. The reduction in your ability to rotate will result in you tightening early and force you to make compensatory movements elsewhere, it will also require you to work harder to hold the position on the back swing meaning you will likely be unable to hold it on the return. In the video link below there are a couple of great examples of what happens when you do and don’t maintain the position through your swing. With a great example of how Ricky Fowler maintains a perfect hinge position through his swing and another of an amateur who does not.
So how do we maintain the good positions through the swing? The ability to maintain the correct posture through the swing comes from a combination of mobility and strength. You need a the torso that is strong enough to resist the flexion and extension forces placed upon it as you rotate and the ability to separate rotation of the pelvis on the hip from the rotation of the spine when moving through the swing so as to maximise your rotation. As well as being strong in the muscles of that we think of as the core we also want to be strong in general throughout the body.
So what exercises do you need to be doing? Pretty simple stuff for the most part like squats, deadlifts, presses, chins/rows and their variants for the overall strength. To get specific with regards to the torso we are looking at wood chops, bird dogs, dead bugs, half kneeling pulley pullovers and side planks to name a few but even here we don’t need to go over board and try and do them all at once.
Finally don’t forget to to simply practise getting into position and performing your swing but with some emphasis on keeping the position and remember it takes time o make changes.