One of the most commonly diagnosed postural problems in female golfers as well as men is C-posture or rounded shoulders. C-posture occurs when the upper back is too rounded. This condition also known as upper cross syndrome was discovered by a physical therapist from Czechoslovakia named Vladimir Janda, who noticed that many people had the same pattern of muscle imbalances.
Although the majority of the adult population deals with some form of rounded shoulders, women are especially prone to this problem because of the lack of developed muscles especially in the shoulder and shoulder blade area.
C-Posture limits how much the upper body can rotate. When the upper spine becomes rounded, it restricts the movement of the vertebrae. What this means to the golfer is that to get adequate rotation, the lower body will also have to rotate. This over-rotation creates a host of problems that weaken your swing and increase the risk of injury. As more women are participating in the sport, the need for understanding of this comes into play in maximizing their performance.
There are a couple of main causes of C-Posture. One such cause is our environment. The human body is constantly trying to get our eyes closer to our intended object, whether it is sitting at a computer, reading a book or driving a car. If you notice, by doing these things, the body develops a distinct forward head posture; this in turn creates a rounding of the spine and shoulders.
Another cause of C-Postures is early childhood development. For example, a highly successful LPGA player Mi Hyun Kim suffers from this structural imbalance, but in her case it was developed as a young competitive swimmer. The constant motion of pulling her body through the water developed her muscles in a pattern not advantageous to the golf swing. She and I try to combat these issues through a variety of exercises that strengthen the weak opposing muscles.
As you can see in the photo of her while singing an autograph, even though her head is looking downwards, her shoulder blades slump forward more than a balanced posture would. Although she is plagued with this imbalance, you can see in the adjacent photo, we have been able to adequately strengthen the opposing muscles in order for her to retract her shoulder blades and create an efficient rotation of the upper body with her swing and follow through.
In order to combat the development or to correct the existence of rounded shoulders one needs to combine a combination of exercises, stretches and quite often, massage therapy into their routine. In cases that this syndrome has become enmeshed structurally, as in Mi Hyun Kim, prevention from further degeneration and risk of injury must be addressed.
However, to begin with, you first need to identify if you actually have C-Posture.
To test yourself, begin by placing your hand behind your back, you can tell that if your hand (palm facing out) doesnt reach your opposing shoulder blade you may have an imbalance. Be careful not to overdo this move you could tear your rotator cuff if done improperly.
If you suspect you might have C-Posture, there are several steps one can follow to help Correct C-Posture.
The following are a few simple exercises to create stability and create the optimal posture
A. External rotator cuff exercise with a theraband.
B. Reverse fly exercise with dumbbells.
C. Bent over DB row or seated rowing machine.
Stretches should be performed as well to stretch out the chest and front shoulder.
A. Forward chest stretch in doorway or against a pole.
B. Behind the back towel or golf club stretch.
Remember, that the point of these exercises is to strengthen an opposing weak muscle while stretching the shortened tight one. This will create more of a balance within the symmetry of the body. In the case of rounded shoulders, the chest muscle and front part of the shoulder are too tight in comparison to the back part of the shoulder and muscles surrounding the shoulder blade.
Most imbalances can be halted by taking the right corrective measures insuring the risk of injury will decrease, the body will become more stable, and an easier more repetitive golf swing can be achieved.
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