Modern lifestyles do not allow any significant and regular opportunities for developing fitness. You have to plan it into your daily routine if you are to get fitter. We spend a great deal of time sitting at work or in the car travelling to and from work or travelling to the shop, dropping children to school… the sitting goes on and on.
The consequences of prolonged sitting and poor posture during our work are weak and over stretched muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and tight, shortened muscles. Remember for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and this relationship is very evident throughout the joints in the body when we slouch during our daily activities.
The result is an imbalance in our posture with some muscles and joints remaining in a shortened or tight position while others are weakened or lengthened.
Our posture is affected by our daily habits. For example, when we sit our hip flexor muscles can become shortened or tight because we rarely go through any loosening or stretching of these muscles after they have been in a shortened position for a considerable time.
The upper back muscles of many people are overstretched because of constant slouching, thus the excessive roundedness of the upper back in many people. These muscles need to be strengthened so as to reduce this roundedness. The more we slouch, the more we weaken and lengthen certain muscles. In contrast, our chest muscles and muscles surrounding our abdomen and lower rib cage can become tight and shortened. They then need to be stretched regularly so as to preserve a balance between back and front.
Why is your posture such an important consideration when playing golf?
Your posture affects your golf swing technique, power and precision. By gradually and regularly improving your posture, especially if you have some imbalances in the neck, upper back, lower back, pelvis, thighs, and in the knees and feet, you will gain several benefits. They include:
- A reduction in the risk of injury
- Greater stability in the body
- Greater potential in driving the ball further and more accurately
Now, here is a very important finding that we have learned over the years. Work on your swing technique and your postural imbalance exercises (stretch and strength exercises) in tandem. You just need to know what exercises to complete and how to combine them with golf swing practise or play.
To start with, you should have your posture assessed. Knowing your ‘weak’ links in posture will point you towards the exercises that are ideal for you. Too many generic programmes are just not individualized enough to guarantee success. For example, the standing lunge is a commonly prescribed exercise to strengthen the legs. However, if a golfer has tight hip flexors (the muscles in front of the hip and above the thigh) then he or she should avoid the standing lunge exercise. This is because the low back is not supported and will arch excessively if one completes a lunge. Thus if the lunge exercise is prescribed for this golfer it will be counterproductive. The standing lunge is nevertheless an excellent strengthening exercise for the individual who does not have tight hip flexors.
Also, other golfers may have a tightness in one side of their chest but not in the other. Benefits will occur in the golfer’s back swing mobility if the golfer who has a tight right chest muscle stretches and works on his/her flexibility in this area. Other golfers will have weak upper back muscles while others will have tight and shortened hamstring muscles. Thus it is critical to know your own posture needs.
Common ‘weak’ links in Posture:
Here are some of the common weak links in recreational golfers:
- Poor upper back strength and overstretched muscles often displayed in slightly rounded shoulders and a forward neck or head.
- Excessively arched low back with protruding abdomen – placing stress on lower back
- Inactive gluteals – resulting in poor base stability when addressing the ball and little power transfer during sequential rotation through to the downswing, ball impact and follow through.
- Poor lower and deep lying abdominal and pelvic stabilising muscles resulting in limited ability to initiate correct sequential rotation and to maintain a firm pelvic position base during the whole golf swing.
Here are (4) points that you should keep in mind when working into YOUR posture position. Work with these points and make your posture as consistent as possible from shot to shot. The more consistent your posture position, the better you’ll swing and the lower you’ll score.
- The insides of your feet should be as wide as your shoulders and your weight should be centered left and right (Half your weight should be on your left foot and half on your right) and also from heel to toe.
- Your knees should be flexed slightly allowing for balanced movement in any direction. With the proper flex, your knees should be directly over the arches of your feet and you should feel completely balanced and light on your feet.
- You should be bent slightly forward from the waist creating an axis on which your shoulders can turn. Once you bend forward from the waist, your shoulders should be positioned over the arches of your feet. This is a very balanced position. REMEMBER You must remain in a balanced posture position. If you feel unbalanced, keep working until you can duplicate this athletic and dynamic position time after time.
- Your arms should hang straight down naturally from your shoulder sockets. Your shoulders, arms, and hands should be completely tension free.
All great golfers and teachers are aware of the importance of the setup:
- Jack Nicklaus: “If you set up correctly, there’s a good chance you’ll hit a reasonable shot, even if you make a mediocre swing. If you set up to the ball poorly, you’ll hit a lousy shot even if you make the greatest swing in the world.”
- Tommy Armour: “Before they ever begin swinging, I can improve nine out of every ten typical amateur golfers.”
- David Leadbetter: “What invariably distinguishes a good player from a poor one is their respective address positions or setups.”
I know that working on your posture, your grip, and your alignment doesn’t seem nearly as glamorous as pounding 270 yard drives but trust me, without the proper grip, the correct posture position, and good alignment, there won’t be any 270 yard drives in your immediate future so pay attention to the fundamentals and and build your swing from the ground up.
I guarantee you’ll be glad you did!