Good Golfer's Posture
For some, golf is a not-too-demanding leisure activity, a nice morning out with friends, beautiful landscapes, a bit of exercise, nice lunch. What better way to spend a Saturday?
But for many, golf is competitive, fierce, cruel. And you can’t get enough of it! This article is about the most often overlooked part of golf training.
Golf is an athletic sport. Golfers are athletes. As with all sports, there is a pyramid of learning, beginning with physical fundamentals, correct technique, efficiency and finally consistency, regardless of what level you are playing. The top pros understand this concept and know all are required each and every time they tee off.
The one common denominator you see among all good golfers is their posture. They possess 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 they play.
WHAT IS "GOLF POSTURE"?
“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. As you guess it has a lot to say about your swing pattern and shape.” According to Roger Fredericks, golf fitness pioneer and author of the best-selling golf fitness video of all time.
It is estimated almost two-thirds of amateur golfers lose their posture during their swing. This causes problems with timing, balance, and rhythm and causes a block to the right (inability to fully rotate the trunk) and a hook to the left - the arms swing, but the body does not.
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. Incorrect, but normal. As a result, other parts of the body begin to compensate like the neck, shoulder, hips, low back and knees.
This is super Golfer's Posture
HOW BAD POSTURE IMPACTS THE GAME
Without correct physicality, by that I mean, balanced, flexible and strong, you will not improve, play to the best of your ability, or you can get injured. Every postural error causes some compensation, or adaptation in motion, leading to a limitation in motion. This leads to improper muscle balance; some muscles grab too much while others do nothing. Body movement requires a “symphony” of effort, all parts of the orchestra playing their part.
The point of practice is to build muscle memory. Each time you set up and swing, this is muscle memory. By reinforcing improper balance as a result of poor posture you are building muscles on a crooked frame. Over time the frame worsens.
The most common error in posture is what we call forward head carriage. It is described as carrying your head in front of your body instead of on TOP of your body. Carrying your body this way eventually forces the powerful muscles in your hips to get tight and short which pulls your pelvis forward. This pull is so great that your upper body compensates by flexing forward resulting in rounded shoulders, head jutting forward, pelvis forward and stomach out. Not a pretty picture and usually ends in back pain. It looks like this:
The second most common error in posture is an “S” shape. This occurs when you arch your low back when setting up. You can see she is way back on her heels instead of on the balls of her feet.
Both of the incorrect postures limit your natural hip motion and your shoulder coil. What usually occurs is an excessive hip slide, a flat backswing, standing through impact and “chicken-winging”. Quite the opposite of an athletic picture.
EFFICIENCY AND CONSISTENCY IN YOUR SWING
Have you noticed how people swim differently? One swimmer is splashing around furiously but moving forward slowly. Conversely, the other swimmer seems to be gliding through the water with little splash but covering much more water. The difference is not in effort. The “spasher” is using way more effort while the “glider” seems to be moving effortlessly. It’s not because one is a sinker and the other is a floater. It is 100% technique.
Okay, there are some flukes like Bubba Watson. Bubba has a unique style and still 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 as Tiger Woods is, one-in-a-billion.
It is efficient to use your entire body when swinging. If your trunk rotation, hip rotation or cross-body motion is limited, you must use your arms and shoulders to complete the task. This sets you up for shoulder problems like rotator cuff tears and Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis). Of course, this significantly impacts your accuracy.
THE CAUSES OF POOR POSTURE IN GOLFERS
(1) General stiffness of the muscles and joints in your lower body causing you to change your spinal posture throughout the golf swing. By lower body, we are talking about the low back and hips.
(2) Poor flexibility. This is a spinal related issue and is referring to the inability to rotate or extend the trunk. All of the motion is deferred to your hips and shoulders and sets you up for injuries in both areas.
(3) Weak core muscles. Core muscles are the abdominals, the low back muscles, and the butt muscles. Core muscles hold your posture together. The strength of core muscles is directly proportional to maintaining good posture through the swing.
( 4) Inability to separate the top of your body from the bottom of your body, causing excessive arm swing. This separation of the top and the bottom is called cross-body motion.
TIME TO TEST
If you are not sure about your posture, try these two tests. If you can not perform them easily, then you can be assured they need some work:
First: Assess the Lumbar Curve
Stand against the wall with your heels, pelvis, upper back and head all touching the wall. This should be easy. Without moving, slide your hand between the wall and your lower back. If you can’t get your hand in, your back is too flat, and most likely your head is having a difficult time staying on the wall.
If you can slide your entire arm under your back, your have an excessive curve, and most likely your chin is elevated, and the top of your head is touching the wall instead of the back of your head.
To check your flexibility during this test, assess how easy is it for you to maintain your head position while flattening your back against the wall.
Second: Check Your Back Flexibility
This time stand with your entire back flat against the wall. Move your feet away from the wall about 12", feet about hip width apart. Lift both arms straight over your head with your elbows straight. If you can do this without your lower, upper back or head coming off the wall, you have good spinal extension and flexibility. If you cannot maintain your entire back and head against the wall or cannot straighten your arms, chances are you need spinal flexibility. Without this very needed flexibility, you are in danger of injuring your low back, shoulders, neck or arms.
WHAT TO DO
The first thing to do is increase your spinal flexibility. Get a chiropractic adjustment. Invest in a PurePosture Board. 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
Take it easy with this, modify as needed and work at your own pace but do it at least 3 times per week.
The second phase is to strengthen your core. You can hire a trainer for this, Pilates works, or you can check out another one of Sean Vigue videos. This one is a good beginner program: Core Strength
Again, super important to work at your pace. You can’t expect buff arms by going to the gym once!
As with all sports, posture is crucial to get where you want to go. Incorrect posture will stop you in your tracks, you may be able to hit the ball, but where it goes and how far, now that is what makes the difference between a winner and a loser.
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. Great posture allows for a productive golf swing attaining both distance and accuracy while minimizing the risks of injury.
To help solve back pain and posture related problems count on PurePosture, an amazing device designed to align your spine, increase spinal flexibility and improve posture. Invest in PurePosture today.