This is the fourth in a series about TPI performance tests.  These tests can help us identify weaknesses in your golf swing just by watching you perform a simple movement.

This particular test is a pretty basic variation on “bend over and touch your toes,” but it’s very important, as it gauges mobility in your lower back and hamstrings, and it can also identify a hip problem versus a lower back or core limitation.

How to perform the test:
Stand with your feet together and toes pointing forward.  Bend from the hips forward and try to touch the ends of your fingers to the tips of your toes, without bending your knees.  Go as far as possible without pain, and try to keep your knees straight through the whole test.  If you can touch your toes, great, you pass!  If you can’t make it all the way there, you have a little investigating to do.

Try getting something to elevate one of your feet a couple of inches, such as a phone book.  Stand with one foot on the book and the other flat on the floor, so that your knee is slightly bent on the elevated side, and straight on the side that’s flat on the floor.  Now, try touching your toes again.  Is it any easier?  Try it again with the opposite foot elevated.  If it’s easier on one side than on the other, then you have a limitation in one of your hips, rather than in your hamstrings or your lower back.

The inability to touch your toes can be caused by a couple of issues: one would be a lack of hamstring flexibility, another would be a lack of hip joint mobility.  If you have arthritic hips or cartilage, it’s unlikely you can perform the toe touch test.

About 57% of amateur golfers can perform the toe touch test, whereas 82% of PGA tour golfers can perform it.

Corrective Exercises:

Reverse Toe Touch:
Go into a squat position with your feet together.  Grab your toes, and start to extend your legs, pushing your butt up into the air, stretching out your hamstrings.  Repeat.

Leg Lowering with Resistance:
Attach the middle of some resistance tubing high up on a door or a wall, leaving the handles dangling down.  Lie on your back with your head toward the wall, and place your feet in the handles of the resistance bands.  Lift your legs up and straighten them out.  Keeping both knees straight, lower and then raise each leg from the hip joint.  This replicates the movement of your hips as a hinge, and can help you perform the toe touch.

There you go!  Obviously there’s more to these tests.  There are other things that I can identify if I actually see you perform the toe touch.  Feel free to do the tests and perform the exercises listed here though, and don’t forget that your whole body forms part of the kinetic chain of a golf swing.

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