Do you struggle with a bad back? You're not alone. Try this elaborate drill that got Joseph Bramlett's career back on track

Joseph Bramlett’s career was cast into doubt in July 2013 after suffering an annular tear to the L4 and L5 discs in his back while warming up for the Utah Championship on what is now the Korn Ferry Tour. What followed could be described as a recurring nightmare.

Bramlett admitted dark days turned into dark months as he endured multiple setbacks on his road to recovery. However, after returning to competitive golf in 2018, the American has now regained his PGA Tour card, paying tribute to his instructor John Scott Rattan and physical therapist Cody Fowler for successfully rebuilding his body and swing.

Specifically, Bramlett says the unusual practice of playing golf barefoot was influential in encouraging a swing pattern that was less physically taxing.

So what can you learn from this?

The golf swing puts the human body under stresses it isn’t designed to cope with. This is the reason injuries of the back and knees are commonplace among golfers of all ages and abilities.

Before his injury, Bramlett admits to having poor footwork, hip-work and flexibility. In the downswing, his left hip would snap, he’d get onto his toes early and this created a tremendous amount of torque which placed excessive pressure on his back.

If he ever wanted to play professional golf again, the 2019 Korn Ferry Tour graduate realised he would have to use the ground far better and create a more stable base.

How did playing golf barefoot help?

With his old pattern, the American would stand up early through the shot and roll over his left ankle which would be very painful if he were to swing without shoes on.

The lack of support that comes from removing your shoes means you are forced to grip the ground more during your downswing which slows the hips and gets club and arms working more in sync.

Now I’m not suggesting you all head to the range and take your shoes off. Save that for summer. But a great drill in the meantime is to put an alignment stick through your belt loops as Bramlett demonstrates.

If your hips spin too fast you’ll receive instant feedback as your hands and arms will come crashing down into the stick.

Although unusual, these drills will allow you to swing more efficiently and reduce the stress you place on your body. Give them a go and see how you get on.

Have you tried hitting shots barefoot? I’d love to hear from you. Let me know in the comments or tweet me.

Andrew Wright

NCG's instruction editor. Terrible student so trying my hand at passing on some of the best advice I've never listened to. Member of Royal Troon. Favourite golfer is two-time major winner and hall of famer, Retief Goosen.

Handicap: 2

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