November 06, 2021 4 min read
This article is co-authored with Anne-Lise Bidou.
Anne-Lise is a French physiotherapist (trained in Australia), working on the LPGA Tour. Her current stable of players includes Hannah Green, Lizette Salas, Morgan Pressel, Paula Creamer, Mel Reid, Maria Fassi, Madelene Sagstrom, Mariah Stackhouse, Alena Sharp, Ashleigh Buhai, Laura Gonzalez Escallon and Tiffany Chan.
When I started working regularly with Alena Sharp at the beginning of the 2018 LPGA season, she had a few issues that are not uncommon amongst LPGA players; she presented with increased thoracic spine kyphosis (rounded upper back) with reduced range of motion in extension and rotation. Alena was also struggling with some shoulder dysfunction stemming from poor scapular (shoulder blade) stability and shoulder stabiliser weakness (rotator cuff) and a generally weak posterior chain (muscles in her back, glutes and hamstrings). Her complaints of a history of neck pain and headaches weren’t surprising to me, given the issues presented above.
Alena has been playing on the LPGA Tour for 13 consecutive years, so she already knew the importance of having her body move efficiently on a daily basis to avoid injury. She has always been committed to spending time every day working on her body, but wanted me to help guide her in more specific training to improve her upper back and shoulder function, with the aim of moving better in golf game and alleviating her headaches and neck pain.
The first thing I started to work on with Alena was posture. I knew that if we could get her in better positions in her upper back and shoulders, that it would have a positive effect on her body and also her golf.
As with many of my other players, I introduced the GravityFit TPro early on with the specific aim of kicking the following goals:
I use the TPro because it’s designed to provide feedback for postural awareness, whilst also delivering the essential stimulus or load to strengthen the key stabilising muscles in the upper back and shoulders. It’s not only effective in achieving quick progressions in these areas, but also extremely simple to use because it delivers feedback that allows players to feel when they are in the correct positions. With Alena being very much a “feel player”, the TPro quickly became a regular part of Alena’s daily physical and practice routines.
Below are examples of the exercises that Alena performs with the TPro as part of her daily routine (hotel room, gym or locker room)
Trains scapula stability with feedback from the TPro (yellow band) for postural awareness. This exercise also helps to strengthen the deep neck flexors and core muscles.
Upper/lower body dissociation while maintaining the arm / trunk connection.
Progression from the Half Kneeling Thoracic Rotation into the lunge position which requires more stability (glutes and core strength)
Alena has historically been a fairly ordinary putter, averaging 88th on tour in the putting stats throughout her career. She was very keen to improve this area of her game and quickly found a very useful application for the TPro in training her putting stroke. The photo and video below demonstrate how Alena uses the TPro to help ensure she holds good posture, engages her spine and scapula stabilisers and has her arm and trunk “connected” at set up and throughout her putting stroke.
Focusing on keeping the feel of the arm / trunk connection for consistency
2019 was one of Alena’s best seasons on tour, mainly due to ranking 15th in putting – by far her best season on the greens!
Her neck pain and headaches have all but disappeared, alongside big improvements in posture, thoracic mobility and shoulder stability.
Here’s what Alena thinks about integrating the TPro into her routines:
“In the gym, I like to use the GravityFit T-pro to feel where my scaps (shoulder blades) are so I have good posture when I do my exercises. It also makes me feel more stable.
As for the golf part. I like to practice putting with my TPro to ensure I have the proper posture. It also helps me keep my upper body connected which in turn helps me roll the ball consistently. Through this practice I can be out on the course and have complete trust in my stroke.”
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