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Sit Up Straight! It Will Help Your Game

What does it take to reproduce the perfect golf swing? Precise coordination of muscle contraction and relaxation, muscle balance and body awareness are all required to recreate a good swing. A prerequisite to these necessary components is good posture.

Good posture is a state of musculoskeletal balance that allows the body to move efficiently in a stress free range of motion. Faulty posture sets the body into a state of neuromuscular imbalance where flexibility and range of motion are limited (loss of power), neuromuscular pathways are disrupted (loss of control and consistency) and detrimental forces are placed on the spine and joints (increased chance of injury).

The cause of poor posture and muscle imbalance is a persistent use of certain muscles with inadequate activation or exercise of their opposing and / or supporting muscles.

Common muscle imbalances negatively affecting the golfer:

Throughout life we are constantly exposed to situations that place us in poor postural patterns. We grew up sitting in school hunched over a desk for most of our young lives. We finish school and begin our careers. Many of us now find ourselves sitting in poorly designed chairs hunched in front of a computer. Those of us who spend excessive time in our cars are often conditioned toward a slumped over lazy posture.

Lower Body Implications

Commonly poor posture leads to a forward tilt of the pelvis, usually from tight hip flexors. This causes the abdominal wall to lengthen and weaken. As a result of the forward pelvic tilt, there is an excess curvature of the lumbar spine (lordosis) causing the spinal extensors to chronically shorten and weaken. Another detrimental effect of this forward tilt is a weakening of the gluteals. The glutes play a major role in hip extension and stabilization of the pelvis and lumbar spine. Without optimal strength and flexibility through the low back and hips it is impossible to get full rotation through the golf swing. To make up for less then optimal hip strength and flexibility many golfers subconsciously tend to over-swing. This over-swinging combined with tight muscles increase the chance of injury not only in the low back, but also the wrists, elbows, and shoulders.

Upper Body Implications

In the upper body poor posture usually presents with rounded shoulders and a forward head. This chronically shortens the pectorals, neck extensors, upper trapezius, and shoulder internal rotators. This leads to a weakness in the upper back, neck flexors, and shoulder external rotators. This causes a constant strain on the ligaments of the shoulder and neck leading to dysfunction and increased chance of injury. Throughout the golf swing there is an intricate kinetic chain of events. These events include cervical and thoracic rotation and lateral flexion, as well as opposing scapular adduction / abduction and retraction / protraction. This type of muscle imbalances severely restricts movement through the neck and shoulders. This makes it nearly impossible to be in position to make a consistently good swing, but makes it very likely a golfer will develop injuries in the upper extremities and cervical spine.

So where does the golfer begin? Start by establishing and maintaining core strength, muscle balance and flexibility by participating in a well developed integrated exercise program. Increased muscular efficiency and flexibility allow you to increase power and consistency while drastically reducing chances of pain and injury. You will not only be playing better, but you will be playing better longer!

Keys to gaining and maintaining good posture:

? Stand up straight

? If your job requires prolonged sitting or travel, get up and stretch frequently

? Make sure computers monitors are centered and set at eye level.

? Maintain good core strength, muscle balance, and flexibility by participating in a well developed integrated exercise program.

Bill Scibetta, RN, NSCA-CPT

Bill is the founder and President of Precision Fitness - Personal Training Centers in the Charlotte, NC area and co-author of the book "Play Better Longer!" - Peak Performance and Injury Prevention for Golf. Bill is a licensed Registered Nurse as well as a National Strength and Conditioning Association - Certified Personal Trainer. After spending years practicing in the specialty of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Bill has dedicated his career to helping individuals identify and overcome obstacles that stand in the way of optimal wellness and peak physical performance.

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