"Skills can be acquired over time to improve your athletic performance or daily life activities but your overall health and wellness needs to be addressed first"
With that being said. The most prevalent issue I see nowadays, not only with golfers but all clients, is poor posture. Why should we be focused on good posture? This is an important question. The majority of the time I speak with current or potential clients they feel like they could improve their posture but aren't sure where to start.
Next time you go out in public take a quick peek at someone standing or sitting nearby. What do you see? As a fitness professional I can tell you that we all have some postural issues, muscle imbalances, or injuries that are stemming from our everyday activities. For my golfers, it could mean inconsistency or loss of power in your swing and for the rest of us it could mean pain. Improving the structural and muscular balance in our body isn't all that hard but it all begins with an understanding of the issues.
The medical definition of posture is “the relationship among the skeleton, muscles, and other tissues of the body as it is held upright against gravity.” This is as just as important to good health and performance as proper nutrition, exercise, and a good night’s sleep. Let’s use this analogy. Think of your body as a car. When the wheels of your car are not aligned there is uneven pressure on the tires and they wear out faster. Just like the wheels of your car, your joints work harder and wear down faster when they are not properly aligned, often resulting in injuries and pain. Breathing and posture are also closely linked. Good posture puts your vital organs in their intended positions to function at peak efficiency and ensures optimal performance of the nervous system.
The Hard Facts:
The most common health complaint in the United States and around the world is back pain. Relating this to golf, The American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine states that “lower back pain is the most common injury and complaint among professional and amateur golfers”. Amateur golfers achieve about 90% of peak muscular activation when driving a golf ball. This level of exertion and muscular activation equates golf to sports like football, hockey and martial arts. The rotational and repeated stress that is put on the spine when swinging a golf club can reach hundreds of pounds of force. Regardless of whether or not you swing a club, the rest of us still need to be able to rotate and react to the demands of exercise and daily life. Proper alignment and muscular balance are essential pieces of this puzzle.
Try something for me right now, sit slumped in a chair with your head pushed forward and raise your arm. Then sit tall in your chair and repeat this arm test. Notice how much easier and farther your arm traveled? Repeat this motion and decide which posture would produce a greater and more easily achieved range of motion. The spine has the ability to bend forward and backward, rotate, and bend to the side. When you are restricted in these range of motions your body loses these abilities. Without proper posture a golfer could not get into the required positions needed to have a consistent golf swing. This tends to lead to imbalances that impair the golfer’s performance and increase the risk of injury. For the average person this means being able to reach overhead to grab something on a shelf or safely press overhead in the gym. Finding the correct posture will protect the spine and maximize flexibility and mobility, aka better performance and less injury!
How to Improve Your Posture:
Options to help you improve your posture range from manual therapy, corrective exercise and adjustments from a chiropractor to just name a few. The most important variable is creating a plan of action and practicing it regularly.
One of the best solutions to fix your postural issues is through a specific conditioning program that looks at your body as a whole. Find a qualified professional (like myself of course) who can help you identify your problem areas and put you on a path to improvement. By following a flexibility, stability, strength and power progression similar to our program at G+O, you will optimize your performance, reduce your risk of injury and of enjoy the best golf of your life.
For actual specifics on exercises, stretches, and more keep an eye out later this week and over the next month on the G+O Fitness Facebook for some short videos and tips from me on posture and golf performance.
Matthew Close is a TPI and PGA Golf Performance Coach located in Boca Raton, FL. As a fitness professional at Gravity + Oxygen, Matthew blends his knowlege of biomechanics and passion for people to help his clients perform their best in all aspects of life.
He can reached at Matthew@gravityandoxygen.com