Grip, posture, stance and ball position are critical factors that determine how your swing will play out. The effect of having poor posture can be damaging in so many ways. It can cause you to straighten up with loss of posture; it can restrict your body rotation causing a dominant arm swing. But have you ever focused on your natural everyday posture from head to toe? As a Titleist Performance strength and conditioning coach, I focus on a golfer’s upright posture during all exercises prior to having them practice hinging or getting into a ball address stance.
Why would I waste time looking at everyday postural alignment cues? What if I told you your everyday head and neck position effects your golf swing. Instead of starting my assessment from the bottom up let’s start from the top down. The head is a weight held in position by the neck (cervical spine). Imagine holding a 12-pound weight directly overhead; now take that 12 pound weight and hold it overhead and slightly in front of you with a slight hinge. Try it out. You will find that your balance is thrown off; the stress of your head is being distributed all down the back of your body to compensate for the uneven weight distribution. This is exactly what happens when you’re out of alignment in a normal upright position. You’ve seen golfers young and old that do what I call “craning” defined as a forward head posture that not only negatively impacts balance, it also restricts a golfer’s ability to turn freely in their golf swing.
When assessing my golfer, I not only look at all movement patterns; I pay attention to their natural postural alignment and their awareness in an upright or seated position. Considering we live in a digital global society, sitting at a desk, sitting at lunch and dinner, sitting in a car or on mass transit, as we go from place to place with are head and eye placement glued to our iPad or cellphone. It becomes clear we spend a majority of time in a position that tends to produce poor posture. Awareness will help you address and restore your optimal postural alignment. Don’t let your lack of awareness be the reason for a less than optimal golf swing.
Here are some easy restoring tips:
Go to a wall and stand with your backside to head against the wall trying to align your shoulder blade and head to the wall by opening the chest and retracting your back muscles. Your shoulders, gluteus and heels should all be touching the wall. Now keep eyes looking on the horizon while driving the back of your head into the wall. Hold for 7 seconds then repeat 10 repetitions.
Now seat at your computer and sit up tall and retract your shoulder blades, feet on the ground and knees are at 90 degrees hold the neck and head up, and eye’s on the screen. Practice holding this position while seated at your computer or looking at your digital devices.
Practice these two simple everyday exercises to restore your postural alignment. The actual change to your alignment depends on the degree of dysfunction and may take up to 18 months to actually change your head to toe alignment.