It was Albert Einstein who said ” doing the same thing repeatedly expecting different results is the sign of insanity”.
However when it comes to golf it seems perfectly OK to hit 50 balls at the driving range with poor body mechanics in the hope that things with improve with “practice”. You’re just going to cement poor movement patterns that will be hard to change.
POSTURE IS POWER
The foundation of a great golf swing is good posture. Without a well balanced body, a strong core, sufficient mobility and flexibility through the spine the golf swing will be mediocre at best or cause pain at worst. If your pre or post game includes taking pain killers you need to wonder why. If you don’t have a diagnosis for a specific back issue, your posture or sequencing of your golf swing could be the root problem.
Your spine has three natural curves that need to be maintained for stability as well as mobility. Repetitive behaviour will cause changes to occur over time. You may spend hours sitting a your desk, driving or watching TV. The sport you play, shoes you wear, your job, even your emotions can effect your posture leading to poor body mechanics due to altered movement patterns or compensation.
The repetitive nature of golf will exacerbate any postural issues you bring to your game, it may also create new problems.
GET IT CHECKED?
Ideally before taking up any sport it would be a good idea to have your posture checked for any potential problems due to changes in the curvatures of your spine together with a movement evaluation test to determine where your strengths and weakness lie.
Unfortunately, this rarely happens, instead we make a decision to take up sport with full enthusiasm and want to get straight to it. If you’ve been playing golf even for a sort time and you experience post game back pain it would be beneficial to consider any physical limitations.
Rounded Shoulders that encourage a forward head position will effect your grip. This position will also make the muscles at the base of your neck and top of your shoulders tense. Over time severe tension and headaches may result which in turn will limit your ability to rotate on the back swing, consequently reducing power and the length of your drive.
The Solution: When you address the ball with your club in your hands. Do your best to stabilise your shoulder girdle by imagining you’re hold newspapers under each armpits, this will lift and open your chest allowing the upper back and neck to relax. Of course you’ll also need to address your everyday posture by strengthening your upper back to hold your chest lifted and open. Releasing your overactive chest muscles that are pulling your shoulders forward by strengthening your upper back is the answer.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN YOUR PELVIS?
Your Pelvis links your upper body to your lower body. Its position plays an essential part in your foundation posture. When your Pelvis is pulled forward or back by overactive or weak muscles around your hips and or low back, reduced mobility around the joints will effect your range of movement, this will reduce the coiling action of your back swing so you’ll notice a lack of power.
THE CORE CONNECTION
A weak core will also result in loss of power and control of the swing. The core is a set of deep abdominal muscles that act as a natural corset for the body to stabilise the low back in order to protect the spine.
When your core is efficient it will connect to stabilise before the more superficial abdominal muscles contract to move your body. Once you master this sequence of connection you’ll be on your way to a healthy spine as well as improving your body mechanics.
Locating and engaging your natural corset may take time and practice, but once you’re familiar with the sensation you can start to add it to your golf practice or any other exercise programme you follow. You’ll eventually notice a reduction in any low back pain you may be experiencing, more control over your swing plus improved power and consistency in your play.
MAKING THE CONNECTION
If you’re not familiar with consciously connecting your abdominals you’ll find this helpful.
- Lay on your back with your knees bent – heels in line with your buttocks
- Take a couple of deep breaths and allow your spine to settle.
- Breathe out then roll your hips back into the floor (posterior tilt) don’t force this rolling back just let the weight of the bones pull you back – it may be a small movement
- Next roll your pelvis in the opposite direction (anterior tilt) creating an arch in your low back and a space between you and the floor. Don’t worry if you don’t create a space or if it’s small this will depend on the natural position of you pelvis.
Notice your range of movement, repeat this rocking several times, now reduce the range until you find a position that is half way between your two extremes – this is your neutral spine alignment.
A neutral spine alignment is the optimum position to achieve best results from your core connection, (Hides et al 1999). To keep your pelvic alignment in place you’ll need to engage your core muscles.
- With your neutral pelvic alignment contract your abdominal muscles taking care not to change the position of your pelvis. This initial contraction may feel quite strong – on a scale 1-10 it may be 10. Imagine you are wearing a belt and pulling it tight around your waist.
- In order for your stabilising muscles to connect effectively the contraction needs to be light. Reduce the tension on your imaginary belt to 3.
- This gentle contraction of the support muscles is your start position to secure stability as the movement (swing) proceeds and needs more strength your more superficial muscles will engage to move the trunk to complete the swing.
The key is to use this set up and sequence at the address to create a stable base from which to start your swing.
Your golf swing begins in your feet and works up the body through the legs, hips, chest, back and arms. Your swing requires strength, flexibility, mobility and stability. The foundation of this full body movement is the core without initiating the core first, the repetitive nature of the swing plus the large range of movement required may result in discomfort, pain or injury.
Learning to engage your abdominals from the inside out with this simple sequence will add power and consistency to your game and reduce the risk of injury.
Practice does not make perfect – perfect practice makes perfect………..
If you want help learning how to utilise your core efficiently email or call for an appointment.
info@thepilatesconsultant +33 06 73 99 37 85