Posted in Pro Tips by Jon Bird on 9th July 2009

By Jeff Banaszak

Proper posture is essential for golf performance. Without proper posture a golfer could not get into the required positions needed to consistently keep the club on its proper path. Although the golf swing looks symmetrical, one side of the body is used much differently than the other. Golfers tend to develop imbalances, which impair performance and increase injury risk. A solid golf-specific conditioning program must look for these postural imbalances. As a conditioning coach you can look at your golf athlete, right to left and front to back, comparing for signs of these imbalances. Although complete postural balance may never be achieved, minimizing the effects of these imbalances should be the focus with any golf-specific conditioning program.

Finding the correct posturewill protect the spine and maximize flexibility. Reinforce proper posture through all golf practice and exercises. Professionals such as a PGA teaching and coaching professional will be excellent resources for postural instruction and education. Once the golfer identifies proper posture, the program must then turn to the next important variable, STABILITY. Stability exercises can help the golfer maintain control and hold the proper posture positions for more consistent athletic performance.
Stability for golf includes the complex interaction of many body systems including the connective tissue, musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems. All these systems act simultaneously at a particular joint to stabilize it. The body and brain must coordinate and activate these systems to minimize stress and maintains integrity of the joints during movement. The golf swing requires the body to find stability prior to the movement, or statically and then during the movement, or dynamically.

Static posture is defined as “the position of the body at rest” (Paul Chek) and is important as the golfer addresses the ball prior to each swing. The proper address posture should be utilized and reinforced during all golf-specific exercises. Once sound static posture is obtained and developed we must move to dynamic positions. Dynamic postural control is defined as “the ability to keep all joints in optimal alignment during any given movement, such that the efficiency of the movement is maximized and injury prevented” (Paul Chek). Dynamic stability will allow the golfer to move efficiently through the swing motion keeping the club on its proper path. This will increase consistency and help to maintain joint & soft tissue integrity. Each golfer will find stability differently depending on the area of the body we are trying to train and protect.

How do we Develop Stability?

Stability for the Upper Body
Stability of the upper body allows the shoulders, arms, wrists and hands to manipulate and move the club during the swing motion. The “key” structure in the upper body is the shoulder girdle. For golf, each individual needs to control the shoulder blades as much as possible as they move along the rib cage. This can be achieved by strengthening the muscles that control the shoulder blade, specifically those muscles that hold and pull the shoulder blades inward and downward are most important. An upper body-strengthening program that targets the rotator cuff is also important to achieve stability.

Stability for the Lower Body
Stability of the lower body must include the combined control of the hip, knee, and ankle joints. During the back swing the golfer must maintain a stable base to allow the proper coiling of the spine and upper body. Golfers who have difficulty maintaining a stable base will often over rotate the lower body or try to brace or lock the right knee. To maintain stability, the golfer needs balance, proprioception, strength and flexibility throughout the lower body and trunk. Golfers need a lower extremity stability program that targets leg strength with a progression to closed chain exercises. Closed chain exercises occur when the foot or hand remains in contact with the ground or a stationary surface during the exercise movement. This allows movement of the body or trunk on a fixed upper or lower extremity.

Stability for the Trunk and Torso
The golf swing involves a powerful and full rotation of the body. The main muscles responsible for this rotational movement are the abdominal groups. The abdominals are some of the largest and strongest muscle groups in the body. Increasing their role can help increase power development, increase one’s ability to protect their spine and have direct performance enhancement applications. The “key” stability muscles of this area include the deep abdominal groups (i.e. internal obliques and transverses abdominus muscle) and the deep low back muscles (i.e. lumbar multifidus). A physical therapist or golf-conditioning specialist can help train the golf athlete to co-contraction these specific muscle groups therefore providing a stiffening effect to the low back. The stiffening of this area just prior and during movement will protect the back from stress.