The Silent Killer of Your Golf Swing

I hate the phrase "swing faults."  I really do.  Maybe it's me being picky and biased but that's fine...I can admit that.  

To me, "fault" means that there's blame to be cast on something or someone for something they've done intentionally.  And that's just the problem...most of the things that we do "right" or "wrong" in our swing are not intentional.  

That's right.  Your swing is primarily the product of what your body is or isn't able to do and what you want to do to the ball.  That's it.  "Reverse spine angle" definitely meets this description.

So when we talk about "Reverse Spine Angle" today, please keep in mind that this is something that is rarely done intentionally.  It is more the result of what your body can or can't do.  And with that in mind, it becomes all the more important that we analyze the body, the swing CHARACTERISTICS (not faults), and how it's affecting your outcome...pain or no pain, distance or no distance, ball going where you intended or not.

The "Silent Killer"

So reverse spine angle is what I've determined the "silent killer" of your golf swing.  Mostly because of the double whammy potential it has to create pain in the body but also reduce distance potential, swing path consistency, and swing repeatability.  

Wonder why you might have low back pain and loss of distance with your golf game? Assessing the swing characteristic known as "Reverse Spine Angle" is a key place to start and this 3D animation with our K-Vest Swing Analysis tool is how we often diagnose and address this maddening move.

Our 3D animation above does a good job of detailing what Reverse Spine Angle looks when it's obvious.  It also demonstrates an improved version after focusing on some things that cause reverse spine angle.

Why is Reverse Spine Angle so "Bad"?

From a pain/body standpoint, the lower back, hips, ribs, potentially even shoulders don't always agree with a spine that goes from neutral to largely extended and rotated and then back to flexed and rotated the other way.  It is often present in many of the golfers we work with who have low back pain.

From a golf performance standpoint, there is a significant loss of power and energy transfer when we go into the backward bend or lean at the top of the backswing.  Our "core" becomes deactivated and we are less likely to load through the hips properly and these two will become a killer for power production.  Also, reverse spine angle causes dramatic challenges with swing path consistency because our body loses the original posture lines that we set up in.  

Imagine trying to swing your club standing up tall and straight.  It will be very difficult to generate power and it will also be very difficult to not want to swing the club like an axe.

Testing for Reverse Spine Angle

Some of the common causes of reverse spine angle come from an inability to separate the upper half from the lower half or what we call disassociate the trunk from the pelvis.  You can attempt those tests here...

The ability to rotate your pevlis independent of your torso is one of the most important physical capabilities to have for the golf swing. This becomes important for utilizing the lower half to generate power, transfer energy, maintain posture, and club path issues or consistency. This also leads to significantly less stress on your spine.
The ability to rotate the torso on a stable lower half helps to reduce lower back issues and maintain posture throughout the swing. Often individuals that struggle with this will have reverse spine angle, loss of posture, and sway.

The other (among many others) most common cause of reverse spine angle is inability to rotate into or load into the hips.  Test yourself here to see how you stack up...

A simple yet comprehensive way to test for hip stability/rotational mobility that could determine where sway or slide in the golf swing is coming from. If you're having hip or back pain with golf or losing power and consistency then this could be beneficial to screen with your golfers or on yourself.
This is one of the pillar movements examined in the Titleist Performance Institute physical screen. Upon self-examination, you can see the difference in the two sides. A lack of hip rotation will lead to swing characteristics that may affect your end result as well as potential for pain and less optimal golf performance.

If you feel like you're struggling with lower back pain, loss of distance, or inconsistent swing patterns, then feel free to give us a call where we can do a phone or online consult.  Or we can get you in the Motus Rx Swing Studio and get you in the K-Vest to determine what might be happening with you.  Call or text: 920-540-2344, Email:

Move Well and Golf Often,

Dr. Eric Wallace

Golf Rehab and Performance Physiotherapist

Titleist Performance Institute Certified Medical Practitioner