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Postural Stability To Improve Your Golf

With Evan Bett, SwingFit Golf

Think about this for a minute. A 100 yard wedge on a calm summer day. That has pin seeker written all over it. Now imagine the same shot only this time from the top of a skyscraper with the green on the top of another skyscraper 100 yards away. Mix in the undoubtable gale force winds and the same shot just got a whole lot harder. This is no different than the amount of postural sway in your everyday life. Postural sway is a bi-product of postural stability. Postural stability is categorized as two different types: static and dynamic stability.

Static Stability – Also known as postural stability. The ability to remain in one position for a period of time without losing good structural alignment. In golfer’s terms, the ability to maintain good posture at address throughout the duration of a round.

Dynamic Stability – The ability to keep each and all working joints in optimal alignment during any given movement, and facilitate the movement efficiently. In golfer’s terms, the ability to maintain an optimal and consistent axis of rotation against the forces produced during the swing.

Attempting to develop dynamic stability without first achieving sufficient static stability will often produce negative results that can impact your swing and hinder your potential. You can’t expect to express the combination of strength, power and accuracy required for various golf shots if your body is unstable.

Your posture is a physical representation and expression of your mind’s perception of posture. Just like the shape of your ears or the position of your eyes, posture is not something you can just look at and change. Before you even think about achieving maximum range, accuracy and consistency on the golf course, you must achieve sufficient levels of static (postural) stability to provide a foundation from which you may then, and only then, develop strength and power. 

When a golfer possesses good postural alignment, he or she is able to hold an optimal axis of rotation and can rotate much more efficiently. Imagine your body as spinning top. When the top starts to lose momentum, the rotational energy is expended and dissipated in all directions causing a constant change in the axis of rotation. Relative to golf, when the postural muscles become weakened, the dissipation of energy from the force produced during the swing causes a misalignment of the golfer’s axis of rotation. This sort of sporadic alignment is a recipe for poor shot consistency and possible injury. When a golfer lacks sufficient postural stability and by default postural sway, he or she will have a tough time ever reproducing a good shot consistently. You might be someone who can sneak out good scores, but breaking 80 can still be done inconsistently.

The concept of improving postural stability as a means of reducing postural sway is a critical concept for golfers, and ALL golfers, to understand. As a golfer’s postural alignments and joint stability improves, the severity of postural sway decreases and the consistency of good shots increases. You’ll have a much easier time understanding your game and the sport of golf will become much more enjoyable when you can hit your target consistently and play your tendencies with aggression.

The following exercises target muscles that are commonly weakened in today’s environment of limited movement. These exercises are one of many that are critical to the re-establishment of good communication between the brain and key stabilizer muscles within the body. Failure to establish efficient communication between the muscles and the brain will only magnify muscle imbalance as you continue to train – a bi-product you certainly want to avoid as a golfer.

HORSE STANCE HORIZONTAL

Step 1: In a table top position, place your hands directly under your shoulders and knees below the hips. Keep the thighs perpendicular to the floor and bend the elbows in toward the spine until the back sits parallel with the floor.

Step 2: Draw the bellow button in toward the spine and keep the spine/hips motionless as you lift one arm 45 degrees from the midline of the body and extend the opposite leg out behind you. Be sure to rotate the hand of the extended arm so the thumb points toward the ceiling and keep the leg fully extended with no bend in the knee. 

Step 3: Ensure that both your extended arm and leg are in the same horizontal plane (height) as the shoulders and hips respectively. Hold this position for 5-8 seconds then bring the extremities back to starting position before alternating sides. Keep the spine and hips motionless the entire time as you alternate and transition.

Horse Stance

NOTE: The common tendency for people on this exercise is to raise the hip of the extended leg or extend the elbow of the support arm which elevates the spine. Have a friend place a dowel rod across your back. At all times that rod should lay flush to the spine between the middle of the pelvis, up through the shoulder blades and aligned with the neck. The rod is your feedback tool, you will know when you’re losing good form once the rod starts to move in different directions or falls off completely. Form is everything! 

PRONE COBRA

Step 1: Lay face down on your belly with your arms to your side and palms facing the floor. Inhale and elevate the chest off the ground as far as you possibly can and keep the toes on the ground. At the same time, rotate the palms outward by turning clockwise and pull the shoulder blades together, activating the muscles of the upper back. 

Step 2: Hold this position for 15-20 seconds then return to starting position and rest for another 10-15 seconds before completing your next repetition. The tempo is designed to increase the endurance of the postural muscles that tend to fatigue over the duration of a round. 

Prone Cobra

NOTE: If you experience too much tension in the lower back from this exercise, be sure to activate the glutes by squeezing the butt before elevating the torso. This will dissipate some the energy and activate muscles higher up the back. 

There’s plenty of good exercises that isolate the key stabilizers in the body but these two should be at the forefront of any good program. After a sufficient amount of training through isolated stability patterns, you should be ready for movements that are designed to combine and synchronize the stabilizer muscles – Integrated Stability. We’ll cover that next month. 

Swing healthy folks!

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