I have made numerous references throughout this website to the importance of posture and correcting muscle imbalances. Correcting, or at the minimum, lessening the effect of these imbalances can have significant implications on your golf game. The intention of this page is to take a step away from the golf course and look at some common situations that can effect your posture and some easy posture correction tips to implement.
If you are someone who sits for prolonged periods of time, particularly at work, it is quite possible that you have tightness in your hip flexors. The hip flexors are a group of muscles that originate both at your low back and your upper pelvis and extend down to attach to your femur (thigh bone). As their name implies, these muscles flex the hip (trying to bring your knee to your chest for example).
Muscles can become tight over time when they are frequently held in shortened positions. For this instance, prolonged sitting would be the main contributing factor.
The primary effect that tight hip flexors will have on your golf swing is that it pulls your pelvis into what is referred to as an anterior pelvic tilt. Both halves of your pelvis are rotated forward which in turn extends your low back. The extension of the low back is really the key component in relation to golf because it may rob you of some range of motion at your spine.
It goes without saying that stretching your hip flexors is extremely important. Also, making sure your desk and work space are ergonomically correct is a must for anyone sitting for extended periods. And finally, making sure that you get out of your chair and stand up every 1-2 hour is a good habit to have and will keep your hips moving.
Rounding of the shoulders is another common postural issue that can adversely affect your golf swing. Rounding of the shoulders can be caused by a number of factors including tight chest muscles, weak mid back muscles, and/or rounding off of the thoracic spine (kyphosis).
In the workplace, it is common with those who frequently are bending forward and/or reaching in front of them with their arms. Making sure that your work space is properly set up will help combat this and will allow reduction of these forces. This type of posture also places more stress upon your shoulder joint, even with everyday tasks, and could contribute to injury especially in repetitive sports such as golf.
In terms of the golf swing, a rounded shoulder posture will limit your shoulder range of motion and will cause you to compensate with other areas. Also, a weak mid back will reduce the amount of power that you can produce during your back swing.
Management of this is multifaceted. Lessening any improper forces by improving posture, rearranging your workspace, or modifying technique needs to be the first step. Next, a corrective exercise program needs to be initiated including pectoralis muscle flexibility and specific mid back strengthening. Also, assessment of general shoulder range of motion needs to be performed because motion can be restricted here in severe cases.
Going hand and hand with the rounded shoulder posture mentioned above is a forward head. This can be assessed by looking at someone from either side. An ideal posture means that if you were to drop a vertical plumb line from the ceiling, a person's ear, shoulder, hip, and ankle bone should fall directly along the line. With a forward head posture, the head is protruded forward relative to the shoulders, therefore the ear would be positioned slightly ahead of the shoulder joint using our plumb line example.
Of the examples mentioned on this page, this may be the most prevalent. It is extremely common with those who use a computer for a living (especially laptops) and those who also perform a significant amount of reading or writing. However, it can be one of the easier issues to fix, assuming there aren't any severe structural problems with the spine itself.
Being mindful of exactly how you are sitting is one of the more important posture correction tips for a forward head. Sitting back in your chair and keeping your posture upright will both go a long way in helping. If you use a desktop computer, the middle of the screen should be slightly below eye level. Things become a little trickier with a laptop or tablet, but try to have the device positioned on a table or counter compared to your lap so that you aren't hunched over while using it.
Another situation where you may notice yourself assuming a forward head position is while you drive. Many people are unaware of the proper sitting position while driving and, if you spend a significant time in the car, this can also contribute to posture. Ideally, your ear shoulder be lined up with your shoulder and hip and your knees should be level, or even slightly below your hips. Seat backs that are titled too far back will likely cause your head to come forward to compensate. Also, your shoulders will be put in an excessively round position as your arms will have to extend further in order to reach the steering wheel. Finally, utilizing some form of low back support is also very important in the car. Many cars come with lumbar support so please inflate it to a comfortable level. If you don't have that option, take a small pillow or even a rolled up towel and place it right above your belt line between your back and the seat for some extra support.
The extra lumbar support also applies to your home and work as well! This is quite possibly the most important posture correction tip on this page, so don't overlook it!
Postural issues are extremely common yet many people are unaware of exactly what they can do to address them. Even seemingly small changes in your resting posture can alter forces that you body is subjected too as well as forces that it produces. You golf game can be greatly affected by these changes, so correcting them is essential for maximizing your body's efficiency.
Please refer to the "Related Pages" below to find links to additional pages that you may find helpful, especially "Posture Exercises" and "Golf Stretches".