Why golfers BENEFIT so much from finding their heels

If you aren’t already, stand up, and notice where your weight is on your feet. I bet you that you are on your mid-foot and/or toes. Don’t worry, this is normal, but not ideal if you want to be a better golfer or stay out of pain.​

Now, try to lean forward completely on your toes. Ouch! That’s kicking in your quads and back. Then try to find 100% on your heels. That feels…weird. Off balance, but your quads and back is likely to relax.

What you’ve discovered is how weight distribution affects posture and muscle activation. As humans we tend to default to having our weight forward, which kicks in our back and quads (see the image below. Anterior tilt = weight on toes).


If we are stuck in this extended state, we are going to struggle to rotate. Our days out golfing are going to hurt instead of be enjoyable. Our ribs MUST be back in order for us to rotate (see THIS article for more info).

Our heels are a secret to unlocking our golf game. Heels will kick in hamstrings, glutes, and abs, which we all need in an effective swing. It will allow you to rotate freely while keeping you out of pain. This doesn’t mean you keep 100% of your weight in your heels as you swing so that you fall backwards. What I am describing is an even weight distribution, about 50% on your heels and 50% on your mid-foot.


Next time you hit the range or play a round, try this out! You can benefit enormously from just a simple change like this. At Sandhills Sports Performance, we specialize in helping clients find their heels and turn on the right muscles. If you would like to learn more, click HERE to sign up for a FREE complementary consultation with us!

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Why you SHOULDN’T stretch your hamstrings

How many times have you spoken, thought, or heard the following sentence?

“Man, my hamstrings are so tight!”​

The next logical idea would be to stretch them out. You might bend over and reach for those toes, or maybe prop your leg up one at a time on a desk and feel that sweet relief.

The problem is, you just made you problem worse. That’s right, worse.

For too long the fitness industry has been a proponent of hamstring stretching to relieve tightness in your back and legs. However, what they didn’t consider is that the body naturally gravitates to a state of anterior pelvic tilt and lumbar extension. In layman’s terms, we live our lives with our backs arched and our ribs flared up. It’s comfortable, it’s familiar.


Take a look at the image above. If you have any back pain, hamstring tightness, or dysfunction in general, changes are you are stuck in this anteriorly tilted position. Look at the hamstrings – they attach on the back of your pelvis and knees.

So here’s the question: If we live in a state of constant anterior tilt and our hamstrings are lengthened, WHY are we stretching them?!

Imagine a rope that has two people on each end. If both people are pulling on each end, of course that rope is going to be very tight. Your hamstrings are that rope and they aren’t tight because they’re short and overactive, they’re tight because they over-lengthened and being pulled on all the time from both directions!

Here’s an even more interesting thought: The way to fix your hamstring tightness is to turn on your hamstrings. We need to restore them to a more optimal resting length so they can relax and your pelvis can get out of an overly-rotated state.

We are very fortunate to be able to implement Postural Restoration Institute methodology at our clinic, where we specialize in recognizing the patterns the human body falls into, just like this one. Every day we get to work with individuals who have this anterior tilt and we help them get out of it!

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Why all golfers must have reaching in their training

Why All Golfers Must REACH

Do you feel that your backswing or follow through isn’t what it used to be? Are you unable to dissociate your pelvis from your hips? Does your swing feel stuck even after hours of practice? Those are just a few examples of symptoms of a stiff ribcage. A lot of humans, golfers included, have stiff ribcages that limit proper breathing mechanics. If you cannot breathe into your posterior mediastinum (your back ribs), your diaphragm cannot function optimally. To compensate, you will likely kick in your neck to assist you in pulling in air, further stiffening the muscles around your ribcage.


The secret is this: The posterior mediastinum can unlock your golf game. If you can breathe into it, you have the ability to rotate your thorax and thoracic spine freely. A good golf swing involves a posteriorly-rotated pelvis with the ribs back, which allows for optimal rotation. A free thorax will equal a smooth, controlled swing without mobility limitations. A stiff thorax will force you to compensate and use improper muscles such as your back to make up for a lack of mobility where it should be (in your thorax).

Reaching is absolutely one of the most necessary movements a golfer can have in their exercise program. Reaching activities bring down your ribcage to force air into your posterior mediastinum. A great example of this would be a Wall Supported Reach. Notice how her ribs are down and just her low back is on that wall, opening up her upper back to take in air.


Correct breathing is the key to everything. Good respiration during activity will involve a inhalation through the nose and full exhalation through the mouth. Every day at Sandhills Sports Performance, I have every client do at least one reaching activity. It keeps them healthy, feeling good, and fires up all the right muscles.

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SHSP adds Woodway Force Treadmill to it’s arsenal

In a continuing effort to offer the highest level physical therapy and sports performance programs in the Pinehurst area we’ve added the Woodway force treadmill to our facility. This treadmill is used by the most professional sports teams and elite military groups worldwide. This treadmill is unique in that it has no motor but rather a breaking system that forces the operator to optimally use ground reaction force to move the belt.

Force TreadmillForce Treadmill Display

Please check out the videos below of a mentor and former football coach of mine, Paul Robbins, demonstrate the use of the force.




One of the most epidemic movement dysfunctions in golf is the inability for the right handed player to rotate around their lead hip. I have had the pleasure of working with hundreds of professional and amateur players over my 20 years focusing on golf specific strengthening and let me assure you this is normal.

You see, over 92% of the world is right hand dominate and an even greater number of left hand dominate players like Henrik Stenson are left handed yet play golf right handed. I have taken hundreds of hours of continuing education and the only organization that I’ve come across that teaches you to treat left and right handed individuals differently is the Postural Restoration Institute (PRI).  Through my work with PRI I have come to realize how handedness, eye dominance and malocclusion all affect how we swing a golf club. I will be writing a series of articles that will break down in layman’s terms what I have learned over the past 20 years of treating golfers. The purpose will be to give our patients and clients an easy to understand explanation of how to improve their golf bodies.
In the clinical setting they will typically demonstrate that their pelvis is tipped forward on the left side

Printed with permission from the Postural Restoration Institute

Printed with permission from the Postural Restoration Institute

The right handed patterned golfer has a tendency to rely on their right side more than their left to do things like lining up a drive, read a putt, picking a ball out of the hole, teeing a ball up, and wait for another player to hit or swing the club. Watch Tiger Woods and you will see the best example of this. The habit of using your right side while neglecting your left makes people asymmetrical.  Sprinkle on top of that the thousands of times right handed golfers turn their shoulders to the right to make a backswing and it is predictable that their body will take on a new form.

This is the start of what is driving them to bear weight more on their right side.  They will have muscles in their abdomen and hips adapt to the new position and then make adjustments in the thorax to compensate. When this happens the right shoulder will usually tip forward and they excessively side bend to the right, and stay side bent throughout their swing.  As you can see in the young golfer below, the spine becomes twisted and the right side of the neck has increased demands placed on it.

Right handed patterned golfer

Right handed patterned golfer

When performing our assessment of the golfer they will demonstrate more pelvis rotation in the backswing to the right and very little pelvic rotation to the left at impact. They will struggle balancing on their left leg compared to the right and show a flat shoulder plane in the backswing because of the over dominate right abdominals. We use K-vest to capture this data to offer the objective numbers that help guide our corrective program. The k-vest data that is typical of this program is seen below.

K-vest pelvis rotation

When assessing the video analysis we use a down the line view that will show the pelvis has moved towards the golf ball at impact compared to where it was at address.  This swing characteristic is called early extension and is often coupled with increased flexion of the lead knee as seen on the right. Flexed left knee

Ideally we would like to see the hips still on the line drawn behind the body and the left knee generally straight. The following exercises are designed to correct the physical limitations that are the possible cause for this swing fault.



The golfer with a forward pelvis is more likely to injure their back and lose distance. The following program will help most golfers who struggle with low back pain and are the short hitters in their group. It is not by any means a comprehensive program and please perform these exercises after obtaining permission from your physician.


  1. Lie on your back with your feet flat on a wall and your knees and hips bent at a 90-degree angle. Place a 4-6 inch ball between your ankles and a band around your knees.
  2. Place a 4-8 pound weight in your right hand and straighten your right arm towards the ceiling.
  3. Inhale through your nose and as you exhale through your mouth, perform a pelvic tilt so that your tailbone is raised slightly off the mat. Keep your back flat on the mat. Do not press your feet flat into the wall instead dig down with your heels.
    PGA tour Pro Darron Stiles

    PGA tour Pro Darron Stiles

  4. Shift your left knee down or your right knee up so that your left knee is slightly below your right knee.
  5. Rotate your right thigh out against the band. You should feel the muscles on your right outside hip (buttock) engage.
  6. Inhale through your nose and as you exhale through your mouth, reach your right hand up towards the ceiling as you rotate your palm so it is facing toward your feet.
  7. Inhale through your nose as you maintain the reach with your right arm. You should feel the muscles underneath your right shoulder blade engage. Exhale through your mouth and reach further.
  8. Repeat this breathing sequence for 4-5 deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  9. Relax and repeat 4 more times.


Restore: It is imperative to restore normal function of the left hip after repositioning it to its neutral position. Your body will likely find this extremely challenging. The purpose of this exercise is to train the inner thigh and outside hip to properly stabilize the pelvis as your hip rotates over a stable leg.


Sidelying left hip strengthening

Sidelying left hip strengthening

  1. Lie on your right side with your right hip and knee bent at a 90-degree angle and your right foot placed on the wall.
  2. Keep your left hip neutral and place your left knee on a bolster so that it is below the level of your left hip.
  3. Place your right arm or a pillow under your head and keep your back and neck relaxed.
  4. Press your right foot into the wall.
  5. Press your left knee down into the bolster feeling your left inner thigh engage.
  6. With your right foot pushing into the wall and your left knee down, slowly raise your left lower leg up towards the ceiling. You should feel the muscle on your left outer hip (buttock) engage.
  7. Slowly lower and raise your left lower leg 10 times while keeping your left outer hip (buttock) muscle engaged.
  8. Relax and repeat 2 more times.


Retrain: Once your body is in the proper position and you are aware how to properly activate the muscles needed to incorporate an efficient golf swing it is time to train it.

  1. Stand facing a table, desk or a counter top.
  2. Place a 2-inch block underneath your left foot.
  3. Place your right foot on the ground ahead of your left.
  4. Round out your back and place forearms on the surface.
  5. Shift your left hip back so that your pant zipper is towards your left big toe. You should feel a stretch in your left outer hip (buttock). The majority of your weight should be on your left leg, through your left mid-foot/heel.
  6. Keeping your left hip back, inhale through your nose as you slightly squat by bending both knees.
  7. Exhale through your mouth as you push through your left mid-foot/heel and straighten both knees. You should feel the muscles on the front of your left thigh and left outer hip (buttock) engage.
  8. Repeat this breathing sequence for a total of 4-5 deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth, slightly squatting with each inhalation and returning to the starting position on exhalation.
  9. Relax and repeat 4 more times.
Printed with permission from the postural restoration Institute

Printed with permission from the postural restoration Institute

The next time you struggle with low back pain or lack of distance understand that you may be fighting a strong pattern that can be corrected with the right approach.  Keep it in the fairway.

Florida Institute of Performance July Visit

I would like to thank David Donnatucci and his staff at Florida Institute of Performance for their kind hospitality and willingness to learn more about the science of Postural Restoration and how it is applied to golfers.

Michelle demonstrates a very challenging exercise that requires her left hamstring to remain active while she activates her right posterior glute medius.

Michelle demonstrates a very challenging exercise that requires her left hamstring to remain active while she activates her right posterior glute medius.

On July 29th I flew to West Palm Beach Florida to consult with Donnatucci.  It did not take long before I knew that I had colleague as passionate about golf biomechanics, neurology and respiration as I am.  David

works with two rising stars in the golf fitness arena Barrett Stover and Isabelle Lyndl.  Together they are responsible for the physical health and fitness for several top LPGA and PGA tour players and accomplished amateur players as well.

David has a business that is located at PGA national and caters to those individuals who want to use exercise to increase their longevity in the game and to help them play better golf.  David reached out to Jennifer Poulin and me to help him process and apply the science of Postural Restoration and how it relates to helping his players.

My first day was spent mostly evaluating players with David, Barrett and Isabelle keenly observing and taking notes.  This proved to be invaluable because I was able to communicate with them how to perform the PRI tests correctly and how to avoid some of the common pitfalls with the tests. All of the players that we evaluated were patterned right handed golfers who we simply needed to test the integrity of their hip and lumbar ligaments and then prescribe the correct ligamentous muscle to help support the overstretched non-contractile tissue.

A great post impact drill

A great post impact drill

As predicted, every golfer fell into one of two categories, a patho-PEC or patho-Left AIC.  Patho-PEC players are those individuals that due to occupational demands have jeopardized soft tissue in order to perform their job with a pelvis that was not in the proper position to do so.  This process of over stretching ligaments usually takes place early

in their development and can be traced as far back as their teen or pre-teen years.  Luckily postural restoration provides a solution to help these players by prescribing exercises to inhibit muscle tone that is driving them into this pattern and then facilitating muscle to support the joints that have overstretched ligaments.

DSC_0288Day 2 continued to be a day of assessing new players and following up with the players who were already evaluated.  This was an off-week for the LPGA tour so we were able to get some consistent work done with most of the ladies.  Day 2 was rewarding in that we were able to review many of the Postural Respiration manual techniques to establish better rib position and mechanics.  For those athletes that needed a left zone of apposition the results were immediate and we were able to undo years of bad patterning that may or may not have been causing pain.

My last day at the Florida Institute of Performance was spent integrating some of the concepts of what we doing as part of their PRI repositioning program and integrating it in the strength and conditioning programs of the players.

This is an effective to strengthen the lead hip in the golf swing in the proper hip position at impact.

This is an effective to strengthen the lead hip in the golf swing in the proper hip position at impact.

Both professional and amateur players were able to appreciate a new, better more efficient position of their body.  I hope with consistency these players continue to develop into the best most injury resistant athletes that they can be.

A special thanks to the athletes for being open to trying new things.  Being around professionals like this makes me demand more out of myself so thank you and thank you David for the opportunity to help your team.


Getting Cindy into her hip

Getting Cindy into her hip




Working with Duffy Golf Fitness in Great Britain

Chris Poulin’s recent trip to St. Andrews, Scottland was more for work than pleasure, although he would probably claim both.

Chris has been consulting with Duffy Golf Fitness and helping them integrate the concepts of Postural Restoration in the training and reconditioning of their athletes.  Staying competitive in professional golf means to be sure that your body is working correctly for you.  Postural restoration is being utilized to do just that for these talented group of players.

Stephen Gallacher, Tommy Fleetwood, Danny Willet, Lee Slattery, Brett Rumford, Alejandro Canizares, Matt Baldwin, Paul Waring and Dave Horsey

Most Golfers Need This Exercise

Most of my golfers need this exercise regardless of their ability level.  The “Unresisted Wall Reach” is an exercise example to help golfers who struggle with maintaining their spine angle in their backswing.

Spine angle is the angle between the thighs and the back (generally about 110-130°).  It is a key factor in enabling you to turn efficiently, and to swing powerfully and consistently, while protecting your back and avoiding back pain and injury.

Remember, as with all postural behavior exercises, it is important that this exercise is performed under the direction of a trained clinician.