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Posture and Prevention

IMG_0930Spring is finally here and it’s time to blow the dust off your golf clubs and head to the course. The beginning of the golf season brings great anticipation for the rounds ahead. Everyone wants to play more often and of course play their best. Here is a tip that will help you achieve both these goals this season. Set up your body with proper posture to encourage a good golf swing in addition to protecting your lower back from injury.

Good posture is a fundamental aspect of the set-up and arguably the most important part of your golf swing. Starting with good posture and maintaining it through the golf swing will encourage a technically sound swing and allow other proper positions and motions to happen naturally. Poor posture prevents you from achieving certain positions and restricts the movements of certain muscles. So what is good posture? It is a lengthened and supported spine position that allows your body to easily rotate. This position sets up the effective use of the most important muscles in your golf swing – those around the hip joint.

To set yourself up in proper posture and achieve a lengthened spine, start standing tall with your chin up. Press your shoulders down away from your ears then roll your shoulders back; this opens up the chest and straightens the upper back. Your arms should hang comfortably from your shoulders. Bend forward at the hip joint toward the ball while maintaining a straight spine. Flex your knees and feel your balance move toward the balls of your feet. The abdominal muscles should be supporting the lower spine rather than the lower back muscles. A trick to check your posture is to align your golf club with your spine. While standing tall, place the shaft of your golf club down your spine. Three points should be in contact with the shaft: the back of your head, between your shoulder blades and at your tail bone. When you bend from the hips into your address position, all these points should remain in contact. If you lose contact you’ll know which part of the spine is bending rather than maintaining the length. The most common fault I often see in the posture of amateur golfers is bending through the waist rather than at the hips. Your tailbone should be extended back so the lower spine is flat.

Not only will good posture help your golf swing, but it is a key element in preventing lower back injuries. Lower back pain is the # 1 ailment with recreational golfers and poor posture in the golf swing is a big contributing factor. Addressing your posture in order to prevent injury will allow you to play more and play pain-free this season. If you are hunched over through the waist rather than the hips, there is a lot of stress put on your lower back in particular. As you twist through the backswing the lower back muscles are stretched awkwardly and can not properly support your spine. The forceful movements of the downswing and follow-through also put a tremendous amount of stress on your back as the movements of other joints (namely your hips) are impeded.

Good posture takes practice and often feels uncomfortable if it’s new for you. Work on improving your posture in your daily life a little at a time and your golf posture will also improve to better your golf swing and help prevent injury. Remember, good posture is a key to a great golf swing. Stay in good posture to help you swing your best and keep your back healthy so you can enjoy the game all season long!

Lindsay MacDermott teaches at Kamloops Golf & Country Club. She can be reached at lindsaymacdermott@gmail.com.