For many reasons, many a golfer lacks the necessary ability to maintain good posture while driving their golf cart, let alone during their swing. The rolled forward, chin-poke or "hunching" posture seen in so many people today creates aberrant stress on the neck, shoulders and back. In this typical posture deep breathing is difficult, the rotator cuff muscles work inefficiently and all muscles are at a mechanical disadvantage.
Good Posture Equals More Power.
Being able to hold a stable posture or neutral spine allows you to:
- Maintain your spinal angle through the golf swing
- Have more efficient movement
- Decrease the risk of injury
- Improve muscle recruitment
- Produce more force (power) at ball strike
All this from standing straight, you ask? Essentially yes. Many of us don't realize how extremely important good posture is to effective and efficient movement, for all our daily activities. In fact, our muscles, especially those responsible for our core stability, all function best from a position of good posture or neutral spine.
Good posture is simply the ability to maintain the normal spinal curves. Further to this, dynamic postural stability is the concept of maintaining a desired alignment (such as the spinal angle) against external forces and loads (golf club, impact with ball) throughout an entire movement (the whole swing).
Normal Spinal Curves exist to increase the flexibility of movement, enhance shock-absorbing capacity, and ensure adequate stiffness and stability at each joint.
- Neck/Cervical spine = subtle inward curve
- Mid-back/Thoracic spine = subtle outward curve
- Low back/Lumbar spine= subtle inward curve
- Sacrum(Coccyx) = subtle outward angle
Improving Your Posture
The first step towards improving your posture is to first become aware of it. Poor posture doesn't happen overnight, it is a function of poor habits in all activities day in and day out.
To help increase your postural awareness try these simple exercises throughout your day, everyday:
- Neck Check - Place your two fingers at the base of your skull. Run the fingers along your cervical spine. Do you feel any divots? If yes, place your fingers back in the divot. Imagine a string tied to the back of your head. This string is being GENTLY lifted to the ceiling, gradually lengthening your neck along the way (your chin will nod in slightly). Stop lengthening as soon as you feel the divot disappear. Hold this position for as long as possible.
- Shoulder Check - Many of us carry the stresses of our day in our shoulder area. Where are your shoulders sitting right now? Are they up around your ears? RELAX. Drop the shoulders down, away from your ears. Hold this position for as long as you can as you go about your way. Recheck often.
- Breastbone Check - To bring your shoulders in line with your ears try this simple posture cue. Instead of shrugging your shoulders back in the classic military pose, simply lift your breastbone slightly & gently to the sky or ceiling. This will open up your chest, drop your shoulders back and gently improve your alignment. Hold for as long as you can. Recheck often.
- Abdominal Tuck - To help begin increasing your core stability protect your lumbar spine, consciously engage your core muscles (transverse abs and anterior pelvic floor in particular). This can be done by gradually and gently drawing your lower abdomen in toward your spine/pelvis. Place your fingers on the front points of your hips. Inhale wide into your ribcage & back (think of flaring both).
On the exhale slowly and lightly stop the flow of urine (women) or imagine yourself walking into an ice-cold lake (men) drawing the "family jewels" up while trying to draw your fingers closer together. This is a subtle action - so don't suck in your gut, "bear down" or squeeze the glutes together.
These simple posture cues, if practiced daily, will not only help improve your posture to positively impact your golf swing but for all your activities be they work, home or play. However, practicing these cues are not enough. In order to have great dynamic postural stability you need to train the muscles that act as the support wires for the spine. Visit a qualified personal trainer, strength and conditioning specialist, chiropractor or physiotherapist for specific postural muscle exercises.
Paul Chek workshops on Scientific Core Conditioning at various conferences 1998-2000.
LJ Ewart's and Dean Smith's Functional Rehabilitation Workshops, Vancouver, BC 2000.
Getting Into the Swing Part 1 and 2 by Maureen Hagen from InformAction Newsletter, April/May & June July 2000.
About the Author
Diana Rochon, BPE, CSCS, NCCP2, IDEA Elite PFT, Can-Fit-Pro PTS is a Conditioning Specialist who has been training athletes of all abilities and disciplines for 15 years. She currently presents workshops and trains clients- from Vancouver, BC to Pemberton, BC- through her company Dynamic Core Fitness. To learn more about Diana and Dynamic Core Fitness, jump onto her website, www.dynamiccorefitness.ca.