Golf is like no other sport. Golfers compete with themselves only as well as with the course, and players of all abilities can shoot a round together. The pursuit of the perfect shot and the feel when the ball hits the “sweet spot” are what many golfers play for.
Mentally, the game is both challenging and relaxing. It can serve as a form of meditation in the outdoors, away from the hustle and bustle of chores or work. Socially, it offers a wonderful opportunity for both business relationships and personal camaraderie. Physically, golf may not be an aerobically demanding sport, but it does require some flexibility and strength. Without the required flexibility in the spine, shoulders, rib cage and hips/pelvis, joints such as elbows, wrists and knees suffer the consequences. Posture figures importantly in developing and keeping flexibility and strength.
A person’s natural posture determines both how a golfer addresses the ball and the compensations made to perform the coiling or rotating motion of the back swing, and the uncoiling motion of the follow through. When a person has a forward head and rounded shoulder posture, the muscles and fascia in the chest, shoulders and ribs are much tighter than normal. This in turn decreases the motion of the trunk and shoulder girdle during the twisting motion.
To determine if you have forward head and rounded shoulders posture, stand naturally and have someone stand facing either your left or right shoulder. Find the prominent bony bump on top of the shoulder. Draw an imaginary vertical line through the bump to see whether the ear lobe and the outside seam of the pant leg line up with the bump. If the shoulder bump (or acromioclavicular or AC joint) are forward of the pant leg line, the shoulders are rounded forward, and if the ear lobe is forward of the AC joint, the head is positioned forward. This is very common, especially if a person sits or stands while looking down, either at work or at home, all day.
If you are alone and want to determine whether you have forward head and rounded shoulder position, stand with your back toward a wall and with your feet placed shoulder width apart and a few inches from the wall. Do your shoulder blades flatten on the wall? If not, your shoulders are somewhat rounded.
Can you comfortably touch the back of your head back to the wall so that the lower part of your head makes contact? (Lower part refers to the part of the skull where the bottom seam of a baseball hat would sit.) If you struggle to bring your head back to the wall, or if it feels like you have to tilt your chin up to make contact, it means that your head position has become forward.
After checking with your doctor, repeat this wall position to help stretch your chest, shoulders and back. If you experience pain during this stretch, see your doctor and a physical therapist.
Correcting this posture can significantly increase a golfer’s consistency and ball driving distance. With more motion in the back swing, more power is developed to hit the ball. When the trunk properly performs the twisting or rotating motion, excess strain on the shoulders, elbows and wrists is reduced.
After the ball is hit, the body needs to slow down as it finishes the follow through. The same factors that affect the back swing also cause compensations in the follow through. Joints such as the hips and knees can be injured with a repetitive swinging motion when the trunk and pelvis are unbalanced. The fluidity of the motion is determined by the available flexibility. If your body isn’t flexible enough, something breaks down.
So if you take golf seriously and you have invested time and money in good equipment and training, you may want to consider tuning your body up. Then, Fore!!!