Every person is unique – including how we use our body in everyday life when we walk, run, stand, sit, sleep, crawl when we were little babies (or didn’t crawl, and found other creative ways to move like bum-shuffling) – so no wonder our golf swings are unique too.
We can identify three to five main posture categories depending on professionals (doctors, physiotheraphist etc) who you talk to, but to keep things simple for now we will have a quick look on the three most obvious ones. If you like people-watching, have a look around. There are Pink Panthers (more technically known as: Upper Thoracic Syndrome or C-posture), Donald Ducks (also known as: Lumbar Lordosis Syndrome or S-posture) and Neutral postures (slightly less common unfortunately) all around us!
Physiologically speaking, the ideal goal for everyone is obviously Neutral Posture. With Neutral Posture rotation of your golf swing is easy and you will most likely get all the way to top of your back swing without feeling stiff or compensating from somewhere else. You will rotate around the axis of your spine (and life is good!).
How does a Neutral Spine feel and what does it look like? Give it a try: stand sideways in front of a mirror and set a golf club in line with your spine on your back and get to a position where the back of your head, shoulders and your tailbone are touching it, with a slight natural arch on your lower back and then take a look side-on in side mirror – this is the Neutral Spine.
The Neutral Spine in the golf swing is very similar to the standing one. If you bend down from your Neutral Spine posture into your golf posture your still have two lower points (shoulders and your tailbone) touching the golf club on your back, but your head is slightly (ideally about 2-3cm) away from the golf club.
Pink Panthers (more technically known as: Upper Thoracic Syndrome or C-posture) swing the golf club with the spine which looks like a letter C from aside. The best way to try what this posture feels like is sitting on a chair. At first try to adopt a really good posture sitting as tall as you can and creating (as close as you can) Neutral Spine – you can even check the same three points with your golf club as previously, if you like. Then put your golf club on top of your shoulders and see how it feels to rotate from this neutral posture. From this neutral posture then try to slump down/curl as much as you can into a “letter C posture”. If you now put your golf club on top of your shoulders and try rotate from there you will find out that it’s much, much more difficult than from the Neutral Spine position. C-posture is very common with senior golf players, office workers or anyone with a weakness of the back and/or lacking flexibility on the rib cage and chest. It is often combined with tight hamstrings.
Donald Ducks (also known as: Lumbar Lordosis Syndrome or S-posture) has lots of curves on lumbar and thoracic spine, so it’s almost the opposite to Pink Panther. If you want to try how it feels like to be a Donald Duck: stand sideways in front of a mirror and set a golf club in line with your spine on your back. Try to get to a position where the back of your head, shoulders and your tailbone are touching it, but instead of small natural arch on your lower back try to make it as big as you can as well as pushing your head well ahead so it no longer touches the club on your back. Try creating a letter S as much as you can and then take a look side-on in side mirror – this is the Donald Duck. Typically you have tight lumbar flexors, hip flexors and often chest muscles. S-posture is very common with female golf players who have been recently pregnant, people who are overweight, juniors with growth spurts or some other reason weak stabilizing muscles and/or tight hip flexors combined with weak lower abdominals.
Sometimes we have a very different body image in our minds eye. Taking a video of your golf swing often reveals a lots of things, or even these simple postural games in front of the mirror can tell you a lot of your posture. If you are not one of those lucky few with ideal posture, you should begin an exercises program to correct the musculoskeletal imbalance and focus on rewiring your brain-body connection again with simple stability creating exercises. In doing so, you’ll be swinging more efficiently, probably picking up some “lost” yards or meters from your drives and greater potential for injury free golfing future.
We will be telling you more little tips how to correct the Donald Duck, Pink Panther postures in a future so stay tuned!