For most people, golf is a not-too-demanding leisure activity. Social, beautiful landscapes and some exercise. What better way to spend a Saturday?
For many, golf is competitive, fierce and you can’t get enough of it! How can you be more accurate and a more consistent in your game? Rather than focusing on the swing, we will pay attention to overall body motion and spinal flexibility.
The common denominator you see among all good golfers is their posture. They possess an athletic posture. After learning the proper grip, posture is the next most important part of the golf swing. You do not need to be a golf pro to see who has “golfer’s posture” and who does not. This alone can clue you into how well they play the game.
Golf is an athletic sport, but not all golfers are athletes. Playing golf, any sport really, is based on a pyramid of principles.
The pyramid begins with fundamentals - how to hold the club, where to stand in relationship to the ball and basic movement to strike the ball.
Next is defining technique - correct club grip, foot placement, weight shift, body rotation and follow through.
Efficiency is refinement of technique - each swing, depending on the chosen club, lifts the ball off the ground and in the direction of play. This is where practice is critical.
The final aspect is accuracy -the ball lands in or within a certain area of desire.
Top pros understand that this pyramid is required each and every time they tee off.
CORRECT GOLF POSTURE
Approximately two-thirds of amateur golfers lose correct posture during their swing. Losing correct posture affects timing, balance and rhythm, preventing the possibility of a complete back swing. The back swing needs a full-trunk-rotation rather than just an arm swing. A good back swing means a fluid follow through. Even worse poor posture of the female players will cause a hump to appear on the back of their neck, needing to know how to get rid of buffalo hump.
The biggest physical challenge to amateur golfers entering their 40's and 50's has to do with posture they've developed over the past 20 years. The body slowly adapts to this bad posture and becomes normal for them. As a result, other parts of the body begin to compensate like the neck, shoulder, hips, low back and knees.
Without correct balance, flexibility and strength, improvement is very slow. Eventually, you must go back to fix the problem. This is doubly problematic because you have to un-learn and then re-learn your positioning.
Every postural error causes some compensation, or adaptation in motion, leading to a limitation in motion.
The point of practice is to build muscle memory. Each time you set up to swing, this is muscle memory. By reinforcing improper balance as a result of poor posture, you are building muscles on a crooked frame.
1. Forward Head Carriage
Dropping your head down in front of your body instead of maintaining a straight line from the spine.
Your body compensates by flexing your upper back forward, forcing the stomach to dump forward.
Eventually the powerful muscles in your hips become too tight and shorten. This pulls your pelvis forward.
And causes low back pain.
2. The "S" Shape
Arching the low back. This puts your full body weight back on the heels and causes a loss of balance.
This posture mistake is more difficult to fix because deep postural muscles (psoas) causes anterior pelvic tilt requiring a change in your normal (non-golf) posture.
Both of these positions are incorrect and limit natural hip motion and shoulder coil. What usually occurs is an excessive hip slide and a flat back swing.
3. Chicken Winging
Elbows bent, ready to take off.
There is excessive hip motion because of weak muscular control from the abs, low back and glutes.
The torso is too stiff to allow for trunk rotation.
“Most people think of posture only as standing taller and pulling the shoulders back, but posture affects and moderates every physiologic condition in your body, including respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, musculoskeletal and even hormones." according to Roger Fredericks, golf fitness pioneer and author of the best-selling golf fitness video of all time.
Have you watched people swimming? One person is splashing around but moving forward slowly. Another swimmer is gliding through the water with very little splash but moving forward much faster. The difference is not in effort but in efficiency. It is 100% technique.
There are some who defy efficiency, Bubba Watson being one. Bubba has a unique style and definitely gets the job done. Another is Tommy Gainey who “looks like he’s trying to kill a snake with a garden hoe.” These two players are anomalies just like Tiger Woods. One in a billion.
It is efficient to use your entire body when swinging. Some parts initiate the movement while other parts stop the motion. If your trunk rotation, hip rotation or cross-body motion is limited, you must use your arms and shoulders to complete the task, significantly impacting your accuracy.
There are four main reasons for poor posture in golfers.
1. Assess Your Lumbar Curve
Stand against the wall with your heels, pelvis, upper back and head all touching the wall.
Try to have your chin level to the floor. Your chin should be slightly tucked.
2. Without Moving From Above Position
Slide your hand between the wall and your lower back. If you can’t get your hand in, your back is too flat.
If you can slide your entire arm between the wall and your back, your have an excessive curve - known as anterior pelvic tilt.
3. Test Your Flexibility
Standing with your entire back flat against the wall, move your feet away from the wall about 12", feet are hip-width apart.
Lift both arms straight over your head maintaining straight elbows. This can be challenging.
If you can do this without your lower, upper back or head coming off the wall, you have good spinal extension and flexibility.
This is incorrect
If you can't do this without tipping your head back or maintain your spine against the wall OR can't straighten your arms, you need more spinal flexibility.
Without flexibility, you are in danger of injuring your low back, shoulders, or neck.
The first thing to do is align your spine. The vertebra must be stacked correctly. Get a chiropractic adjustment. Invest in PurePosture.
Next increase your spinal flexibility. Enroll in yoga class. Hit the pool. Hire a trainer to help with spinal flexibility. Go to YouTube for at home stretching program, this one by Sean Vigue is good: Stretches.
Increasing flexibility takes some time. Ligaments do not stretch as easily as muscles. Work at your own pace but do it at least 3 times per week.
The third phase is to strengthen your core. You can hire a trainer for this, do some pilates, or check out another one of Sean Vigue videos. This one is a good starter program: Core Strength.
Bonuses: Maintaining a proper “golf posture” will help you move in an efficient, athletic way, regardless of your age. Good posture is essential in everyday life; you will notice less stress on your back.