If you have ever had your golf swing videotaped, you know the horror of seeing your posture for the first time. Remember when your parent told you stand up straight? Maybe you should have payed closer attention. Why does posture matter? According to Paul Chek, a golf biomechanical specialist and founder of the Chek Institute, posture is defined as, The position from which movement begins and ends. This definition is particularly useful when you consider that a persons posture is a physical result of the interaction between their mind and body, nervous system and musculoskeletal system. If you begin and end movement with poor posture, you greatly increase the chance of joint wear-and-tear and injury.
Even if you possess straight posture while sitting, it does not insure sound postural alignment in your golf stance or during your golf swing. For example, while sitting, you are in a static, controlled condition. Standing in your golf stance and executing the swing, places your body in a dynamic position. This correct postural position now requires explosive movement, tremendous strength and flexibility.
During the address phase of the swing, it is important to keep the shoulders back. When the shoulders begin to roll forward it creates a condition known as thoracic kyphosis ' an undesirable postural condition on and off the golf course. As we age, a rounding of the shoulders develops, as a slight hump in the upper back and forward head position is a common condition.
The following Yoga for Golfers poses address muscles affecting the upper thoracic spinal region. You will begin to experience better posture in the thoracic spine, increasing the opportunity for a consistent, repeatable swing.
Depending on your fitness level, hold each pose for five to fifteen long slow deep breaths.
The Cat pose will gently and effectively increase your spinal range of motion.
Begin on the floor, place your body on all fours - hands and knees. The hands are placed directly under the shoulders - knees directly under the hips. As you begin a deep inhalation, engage the buttocks and curl the spine from the base up to your neck (tucking your chin into your chest).
As you begin the exhalation, arch youre back bringing your shoulder blades together, moving your shoulders away from your ears. Be sure not to scrunch or hyper-extend your neck during this exercise. Perform this ten times in each direction - moving very slowly with focus on deep breathing through the nose.
Note: Before you begin this or any exercise program obtain written permission from your doctor. Move slowly and gently, never experiencing pain. If you have high blood pressure or glaucoma do not place your head below your heart. Remaining standing straight up.
Place hands wider than shoulder width apart. Spread fingers wide and begin to move the knees back to just under the hips. Pull your navel towards the spine, protecting the low back and move the buttocks away from the hands. Forearms are off the ground. Feel the stretch in the shoulders and upper back, down to the thoracic spine.
Place feet slightly wider than hip width apart. Bend knees and draw the navel towards the spine supporting the back. Lace hands together in front of body and drop arms slightly lower than shoulder height. Press hands and arms away from the upper body, tucking the chin towards the chest. Feel the stretch in the upper back.
Chest opening pose:
Stand with feet hip width apart, slightly bend knees and draw navel towards the spine supporting the low back. Clasp hands behind back, bringing the fleshy part of the palm together. Roll the shoulder open and hold for five breaths. Fold forward allowing the hands to come over the head. Hold for five breaths.
Editor's Note: Katherine Roberts, founder of Yoga for Golfers, has 20 years of experience in fitness training, yoga studies, professional coaching and motivation. Katherine welcomes your email questions and comments, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.