Many sports require a strong, smooth body rotation. These exercises will help you do just that—while bringing the core stability needed in everyday life.

Photo by Jeffrey F Lin on Unsplash

Tennis player Serena Williams, hockey player Zdena Chara and golfer Phil Mickleson – these are some of the top power generators in rotational sport. Though tennis, hockey and golf are all different, their kinematic sequences and principles of power generation are all the same. This ability also promotes the basic core strength and coordination needed for a healthy body – no matter what your favourite sports or fitness activities.

Rotational sports involve the efficient outward transfer of energy from the heaviest part of the body to the lighter parts. In the kinematic sequence of golf, for example, this involves an acceleration-deceleration sequence that starts in the hips, followed by the thorax, then to the arms. It results in an explosive force travelling from the club head to the ball.

In golf and many other sports, force is driven into the hips from the ground, utilizing ground-reaction force that is then dispersed along this kinetic chain. This sequence has been observed time and again with 3D motion capture at the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) in California, home to the training facility of some of the top names in golf. 

Founded in 2003 by Dr. David Rose and Dave Phillips, the Titleist Performance Institute leads the world in research and data on how the human body functions in relation to the golf swing. At TPI, they do not believe in one way to swing a club, but rather in an infinite number of swing styles. However, they do believe there is one efficient way for every player to swing and it is based on what the player can physically do.

Based on the limitations and performance observed in the TPI movement screen, they work with rotational athletes to enhance mobility and stability to help create not only a swing that is effective and powerful, but also one that is safe and repeatable with lowered risk of injury.

Here are a few of my favourite exercises to provide you with the right combination of strength, mobility and stability to help make you a rotational powerhouse.

Cross body hip hinge

This exercise helps to build lower body stability, while incorporating a swinging motion with the arm and simultaneously working external rotation in the shoulder. By keeping a stable base through the swing, your body increases the storage of potential energy loaded in the trail hip in the backswing. This helps to allow maximum force output through the drive in the hips during the follow through.

Instructions

Holding a dumbbell in your right hand, stand on your left leg and keep your right leg lifted for the duration. Begin by squatting into your left hip and bringing the dumbbell down diagonally across your body and over your left hip. Kick back with the right foot. Then stand up and raise the dumbbell diagonally across your body and over your right shoulder. Repeat.

Bent arm tornados

This exercise teaches dissociation between the upper and lower body, keeping the lower body stable while rotating through the upper body. This is key for efficiently linking energy production with force output.

Instructions

Get into a ready position with knees bent. Hold a medicine ball in both hands out in front of your body. Trying to keep your lower body stable, rotate your upper body and ball back and forth as fast as possible.  

Fish tails

This is a pure core exercise, but by adding the rotational component you can improve your ability to blend lower-body movement into upper-body movement.

Instructions

Get into a straight arm push-up position with your feet and shins on a stability ball. Keep your feet spread about shoulder-width apart and your trunk parallel with the ground. Begin by rotating your lower body to the right, coming as close to the ground as you can with your right toes. Return to the starting position and now do the same to the left. Return and repeat.

Kettlebell swings

This is all glutes and hips firing forward. Though the arms are swinging up, all the drive is coming from the legs, just like in the golf swing.

Instructions

First hike the kettlebell back between the legs with upper arms against the ribs and forearms high in the groin. The kettlebell will project straight behind you. Once the hips are loaded, perform an aggressive hip extension by pushing down into the ground with the feet. Do not lead with the shoulders and do not start with a high swing. You can work your way higher as you gain enough momentum from the drive in the hips.

More Insights: Check out this helpful article on shoulder strengthening exercises.

Author: Dr. Emily Wiggin is a TPI certified chiropractor who practices at Kinesis Health Associates in Dartmouth, NS. She uses the TPI movement screen to assess rotational athletes and designs treatment and rehabilitation protocols based on their performances and limitations.

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