One of the most important fundamentals of golf is proper golf stance, however this stance is hard to achieve when you already have poor posture. Correcting bad golf posture can significantly improve your golf game, as well as reduce your risk of injury, both on and off the course.
Causes of Bad Posture
There are multiple factors that impact posture, including genetics, body composition, and general awareness of how your body is moving.
Generally, the largest contributing factor for posture is in how we sit. Many of us spend significant periods of time sitting throughout the day at work. Often, we start out sitting upright, but over the course of the day our posture begins to slip, and we begin to round our shoulders more, our head shifts forward, and the arch in our low back disappears.
Sitting for extended periods of time also leads to tight hip flexors and lack of flexibility through the lumbar spine. Over time poor posture leads to muscle imbalance, which can lead to compensating with other areas of your body, increasing the likelihood of a poor shot, or even injury.
Maintaining Posture In Golf Swing
The importance of posture in golf swing cannot be overstated. It directly correlates to the quality and consistency of your shot. The golf swing is a very athletic motion that relies heavily on trunk rotation, the axis of which is your spine.
Proper golf posture requires your spine to be as neutral as possible, to ensure the greatest amount of rotation, giving you greater efficiency through your swing. Some of the most common postural issues for golfers are rounding through the mid-back and shoulders and a forward head. This type of posture decreases the spine’s ability to rotate effectively. It also puts additional stress on your shoulder joint, limits your shoulder range of motion causing you to compensate with other areas, and reduces the power in your swing.
Lack of flexibility in the lumbar spine and hips also impacts the ability of the trunk to rotate effectively and efficiently. Core strength is also a factor in the ability of the body to stay in good posture and to rotate efficiently.
Pilates For Golf
Pilates and golf work so well together because Pilates emphasizes core strengthening, stabilization and mobility. This is the focus of core exercises for posture as well, so improving these three components can help to improve your posture.
Some of the benefits of Pilates for golfers include:
- Increased range of motion in shoulders will help you attain an optimal backswing and follow-through
- The added hip and torso flexibility will help you gain more distance and power
- Gain a stronger and bigger hip turn for greater power through rotation
- Create a smoother and more powerful swing due to evenly conditioned back muscles
- Maximize balance and alignment while rotating
- Decrease fatigue because of less strain on the body
- Stamina to hold a body position long enough to play through a shot
- Reduce your handicap by 10 strokes!! (Just kidding – there are many things that add to reducing your handicap, but getting fit through Pilates can definitely help!!)
Golf Core Workout
One of the best stretches for golf mobility is the Hip Flexor Lunge. Start with the Left knee under the Left hip and step out with the Right foot until it is in a straight line under the knee. Holding the abdominals in, lean pelvis forward slightly, feeling stretch in Left hip flexor. Keep your chest open. For additional stretch, place hands together in front of chest with arms straight and turn torso towards Right leg, exhaling into stretch. Repeat 6-8x each leg. Use a folded mat or cushion under the knee or modify it with a chair if desired. Be sure to tilt the pelvis under to feel hip flexor stretch. Keep chest open and weight in heel of front foot.
Hip Flexor Lunge activates the glutes and is a great preparation for Bridges, one of the best core strengthening exercises for golfers. Lay on your back with a neutral spine and knees bent. Inhale to prepare, exhale as you draw in your navel and lift hips and torso off the floor. Inhale while in the bridge position, exhale as you lower your spine and hips to the floor. Be especially careful not to over-extend your spine at the top. Doing so will put too much stress on the lower back. Repeat 10x.
Open Book is an example of rotational exercises for golf. Begin by lying on your side with hips and shoulders, legs and arms “stacked”. Arms are outstretched in front of your chest with fingers “matched”. Exhale as you open your arms out to the sides and rest head back onto the mat. Be careful to keep your knees together as much as possible. Repeat 4-6x each side.
Golf hip rotation exercises such as Leg Overs contribute to having your best golf posture by improving hip mobility. Keeping your back on the floor and navel drawn in, start with arms stretched out to sides from shoulders. Keeping Right leg on the floor, lift Left leg up and drop to the opposite side. Alternate sides for count of 10. Modify to bent knee as you bring your leg from floor and lower to floor if needed for your back.
Elbow Plank is another great golf core exercise. You can modify this pose using a chair or doing it with your knees on the mat if needed. Starting with a neutral spine, elbows directly under shoulders and toe tucked, inhale to prepare. Exhale, drawing in navel to stabilize as you lift torso off of floor until on forearms and feet. If using the modified version, bend knees with feet as close to your bottom as possible, so that you lift onto the portion of your thigh that is above kneecaps. It is very important on this exercise that you keep your abs in tight without letting your back arch, so that you don’t hurt your back. Hold for 10-60 seconds.