More power, more consistency, and more ball control. That’s all you need to know about upper body mobility for golfers. If you haven’t already been to our lower body mobility write-up be sure to check it out after this one. Combining the exercises from both posts is a surefire way to improve your mobility and realize all three of the benefits listed above.

For this post we are going to focus on upper body mobility starting with the thoracic spine. A common ailment for golfers is low back pain. We end up blaming at the low back as the culprit, when in reality, the low back is often a victim of poor thoracic and hip mobility. When you lack upper body mobility in your mid back, and lower body mobility in your hips, the demand gets placed squarely on the low back and it does everything it can to keep up, often resulting in low back pain and poor swing mechanics.

physical therapy golf swing, upper body mobility

Focusing on your thoracic mobility and the exercises outlined in our lower half mobility blog will really help you to avoid back pain which can go a long way towards keeping your game consistent through all 18 holes.

Foam Roll (Mobilize) Thoracic Spine

This is a great way to get upper body mobility before a tee time, or to loosen up after a long day in the office chair. You’ll note that the technique in this video is actually not to roll, it’s to stay put and stretch your spine backwards over the foam roller. This will actually enable you to improve the movement between the vertebrae of your spine.

Stretch Thoracic Spine

This is a great way to stretch out your entire back and shoulders. Hold this exercise for 30 seconds at a time to improve the ease with which your back, shoulders, and hips all work together during your swing. Less restrictions in each of these areas leads to more consistent swings and unlocks power and consistency due to you being able to swing with less effort. Pair this with some lose-stay, win-move on practice and you’ll be on your way to decreasing your handicap.

Open Books (easy)

The thoracic spine specializes in rotation. After you’ve mobilized and stretched to improve your range of motion, open books is a great way to improve upper body mobility in a light, gravity assisted manner. If you’re finding that you have trouble reaching your shoulders all the way to the floor, take a deep breath and exhale. When you exhale entirely see if you can add a little extra to that twist. If you have trouble keeping the back of your head on the ground and you find your neck in extension, place a foam roller or pillow behind your head to support your neck.

Thread the Needle (medium)

As you gain thoracic mobility with open books, thread the needle provides a great way to get your muscles to use that range of motion right away. Be sure to sit back on your heels with this one, this prevents your low back from compensating into the twist and makes you focus on your thoracic spine. Do the series up to thread the needle before heading to the course so that your backswing is already primed to be full range of motion.


Chair with Twist (hard)

Yes, we are ending lower body and upper body mobility with the same exercise to help drive home the point that chair with twist is a great exercise that focuses on lower and upper body mobility. This is our favorite mobility exercise to incorporate at the course just before hitting the driving range.


If you’ve been struggling with lower back pain or hip fatigue in the later holes of your golf game, and your physical therapist hasn’t been able to help, you may be a victim of decreased mobility. Work on these techniques and if you’re still coming up short, chances are you’re missing something that we can help you find and fix. Give us a call, we help people like you get back to the game every single day.

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