As the weather starts to get warmer, and the grass starts poking through the snow here in Connecticut, it is natural for our minds to drift towards golf. And why not? Connecticut is a great place for golf, with many beautiful public and private courses. I love to play golf, but as a chiropractor, I have a different way of looking at the game. You might see your ball slice off into the woods and wonder why. I see your stiff lower back preventing you from turning properly in your backswing forcing that side spin to occur. For this reason, I decided to put together an article on some of the problems that can occur when your spinal posture affects your golf game.
Golf and your Spine
The golf swing boils down to generating force from your feet stuck in the ground, and transferring that force up your legs, around your spine, and down your arms to the club. That rotation around the spine is integral to your ability to repeat your swing over and over for consistency. While you swing, the force generates up to eight times your bodyweight in compression on your lower back. Any pre-existing back issues are magnified when you swing a club. Pain or misalignment in the back can affect your swing. To correct this, we look at spinal posture and mobility as the two most important facets of your body when it comes to your golf swing.
Not only is posture one of the most important parts of your spinal health, but it sets the table for your entire golf swing. You can have all the proper swing components in place. But, if you start from a position of poor posture, everything that follows will suffer.
Poor starting posture can lead to swing plane problems, such as – reverse pivots and reverse spine angle, casting or over the top swings, and a poor follow through. All of these faults can be diagnosed on video or with a teaching pro, but the underlying posture must be corrected to fix your swing.
Correct Spinal Posture for Golf
When looking at your address from the side, your spine should follow a straight line from your hips to your shoulders. This allows for maximum rotation on your backswing and follow through. And, it allows the abdominal muscles to generate enough force to bring power to your shot. Proper posture requires three parts – the flexibility to move your spine into position, the strength to hold it there, and the habit, or feel of the proper stance.
An S-Spine posture results from weak postural muscles. It looks like an S shape from your neck to your hips, and it appears that the rear end is protruding. This posture gives a good turn, but consistency is a problem. This can result in a sloppy swing plane, or pain in the lower back.
A C-Spine posture comes from limited spinal mobility. If the spine cannot extend properly, you end up with a rounded back prior to your swing. Rotation is limited in this posture, so many golfers will compensate in other areas of their swing to try to generate power. The curved posture puts added strain on the discs, and can result in a disc herniation.
Chiropractic manipulation is the best way to improve the mobility between the joints of the spine.
After posture, the ability of the spine to turn smoothly is the most important factor in a strong, reproducible golf swing. If the joints cannot move properly, power generated in your legs is lost, and your distance will suffer. Mobility in the joints and flexibility in the muscles can both contribute to a loss of spinal mobility.
Overall, we lead sedentary lives compared to what our bodies have evolved for. Sitting at work or in a car causes the joints of the spine to stiffen. You may not notice this stiffness at first but it changes the way you move, and can snowball as other joints compensate. Chiropractors, like Dr French, are specially trained to find these misalignments, and correct them using adjustments. Many professional golfers take advantage of chiropractors on the tour, and that kind of help is invaluable for amateurs as well.
Tight muscles can also reduce mobility in the back. Hamstrings and hip flexors affect the pelvis, and the trapezius and forearm muscles affect the upper body. Not only do they inhibit your ability to start in the correct posture, but shortened muscles cannot generate as much force. This is because the first part of a muscular contraction operates on elastic tension (like a rubber band.)
Stretching prior to starting a round of golf is important for everyone. But, if you suffer from a specific muscle issue, specific stretching and exercise off the course is essential.
How Dr French can help your golf game
Posture and spinal mobility are primary components of a good golf swing, and they are also the focus of Dr French’s chiropractic practice in Norwalk, CT. Dr French specializes in the treatment of neck and back misalignments. Chiropractic treatment can result in better posture and spinal mobility relieving pain and helping your golf swing. If you are looking for an improvement in your game, or playing golf is causing back pain, we would be happy to work with you to figure out what is causing the problem, and come up with a solution. If you are in the Norwalk area, contact us or click below to schedule an appointment online.