Let’s be honest, during our daily lives we often judge others based on first impressions. You may not notice someone with great posture but you certainly notice when someone exhibits poor posture. Great posture exudes confidence, strength and power. When you are on the golf course and you see poor posture at address you instinctively understand the golfer is predisposed to problems and at an immediate disadvantage.
Let’s take a look at your everyday posture and then apply it to the golf swing. In our society, posture has deteriorated drastically, primarily due to lifestyles. Sitting at computers for hours, driving in our cars, sitting in our homes watching television and a general lack of exercise all contribute to poor posture. The good news is that with a simple series of flexibility and strengthening yoga poses, posture can be improved, regardless of age. Proper posture is the foundation of a solid golf swing. Many swing flaws occur because of poor posture and a lack of core conditioning. Regarding posture and back injury, research shows that golfers who have a tendency to have more flexion in their spine, specifically in the address position, experience more back pain. In addition, research suggests that a proper warm up and stretching routine that supports proper posture at address may reduce back pain.
For our purposes, good posture is defined as “the position from which movement begins and ends.” There are different types of posture, those pertinent to golf are: static posture, or stationary posture, and dynamic posture, or moving posture. Static posture is the position of the body at rest, sitting, standing, or at address. Dynamic posture is the maintenance of what’s called “the instantaneous axis of rotation of any/all working joints in any spatial or temporal relationship,” beginning with the take away phase of the swing. OK now translate this into something understandable … basically, your joints should always be lined up in their proper working positions during the full range of any given motion, specifically, the golf swing. It is critical that your static posture be in the correct position for dynamic posture to evolve. It is like building a house, if the foundation is lacking strength so will the structure that sits atop the foundation.
Golf is a rotation sport; to reach your potential you must be able to repeatedly rotate efficiently and explosively. Golfers with inadequate postural alignment, muscle imbalance syndromes, and associated joint motion restriction will not be able to rotate efficiently. It makes sense to take a look at your current state of posture and then work on creating better static and dynamic posture through golf specific yoga exercises. To begin your discovery of finding your state of posture and implementing some exercises to create and maintain good posture, follow these depictions outlined below. Let’s get started and make this golf season your best ever!
Note: Get written permission from your physician clearing you to participate in this or any other physical fitness program.
We’ll start with a few assessment tools to evaluate your current state of posture:
* Stand in front of a mirror and allow your body to come to a standing natural state of posture. If your upper back is rounded and your shoulders internally rotate the back of your hands will face the mirror. If this is the case you need to work on your posture, specifically your upper chest and thoracic spine.
* Sit on the edge of a chair, cross your arms in front, elbows lifted to shoulder height. Allow your body to move into a natural, relaxed position. Rotate your body as far as possible to the right, torso first, followed by your neck and head. Mark your ability to rotate. Repeat on the other side.
* Repeat #2 but now pull the navel in towards the spine, sit up as tall as possible and rotate to the right again. Notice your ability to increase your range of motion requires much less effort with a straight spine, verses a compressed spine. This is your goal!
YOGA POSES FOR GOOD GOLF POSTURE.
CHEST OPENING POSE
This exercise improves shoulder turn, stabilizes shoulder blades, reduces a risk of rotator cuff injury, and supports better posture for greater range of motion in the golf swing. In addition, becoming proficient with this exercise you will begin to notice improved ability to control your club throughout the swing.
Par Level Begin with the right foot forward, left leg back as you bring your right palm to the wall behind you. Inhale, pressing your palm (and if possible your entire arm) into the wall, pressing the chest towards the front of the room. This will activate the muscles. Hold for a count of five, exhale and move slightly deeper into the stretch. Repeat this five to ten times. If you are very tight in the chest area you may hold the pose for a count of twenty seconds.
Birdie and Eagle Level Place the hand slightly higher on the wall, with the elbow just below shoulder level.
ROLLING ALLIGATOR POSE
This exercise improves posture at address, reduces a risk of injury, increases endurance and greater range of motion in the takeaway and follow thru.
Birdie Level: In this pose it is important to maintain the torso and legs as one unit as you begin on the floor face down. Place the arms perpendicular to your body with the palms facing down. On the inhalation, squeeze the legs together and pull the abdominals inward. On the exhalation, slowly roll to one side. Inhale as you come back to the starting position.
Locust Pose is a powerful exercise for strengthening the erector spinal muscles as well as the gluts. Becoming proficient with this exercise will improve your distance off the tee and will enhance a repeatable movement by maintaining a consistent spine angle throughout the swing.
Par Level: Begin in a prone position, arms perpendicular to the floor, hands facing the floor. Squeeze the legs and gluts together pressing the tops of your feet towards the floor. On the inhalation, pull the abdominals in, press the tailbone down, which will internally rotate the pelvis. On the exhalation, roll the shoulders back, slightly lifting the chest off the floor. Inhale and return to the starting position. Repeat five times and holds for five breaths.
Birdie Level: Lift the chest higher off the floor as you lift the hands off the floor. Focus on activating the muscles of the upper back. Repeat the dynamic, fluid movement five times and then hold for five breaths.
This stretch will increase your ability to maintain proper posture at address and increases the ability to maintain a consistent spine angle throughout the swing. Maintaining good posture will help reduce the stresses that can cause spine injuries.
All Levels: Stand with the feet hip-width apart, bend the knees and slightly tuck your pelvis under. Extend the arms to shoulder height, clasping the hands together. Inhale deeply, squeezing the shoulder blades together. On your exhalation press your arms away from your body and tuck the chin into the chest. Repeat ten times.