If you aren’t already, stand up, and notice where your weight is on your feet. I bet you that you are on your mid-foot and/or toes. Don’t worry, this is normal, but not ideal if you want to be a better golfer or stay out of pain.
Now, try to lean forward completely on your toes. Ouch! That’s kicking in your quads and back. Then try to find 100% on your heels. That feels…weird. Off balance, but your quads and back is likely to relax.
What you’ve discovered is how weight distribution affects posture and muscle activation. As humans we tend to default to having our weight forward, which kicks in our back and quads (see the image below. Anterior tilt = weight on toes).
If we are stuck in this extended state, we are going to struggle to rotate. Our days out golfing are going to hurt instead of be enjoyable. Our ribs MUST be back in order for us to rotate (see THIS article for more info).
Our heels are a secret to unlocking our golf game. Heels will kick in hamstrings, glutes, and abs, which we all need in an effective swing. It will allow you to rotate freely while keeping you out of pain. This doesn’t mean you keep 100% of your weight in your heels as you swing so that you fall backwards. What I am describing is an even weight distribution, about 50% on your heels and 50% on your mid-foot.
Next time you hit the range or play a round, try this out! You can benefit enormously from just a simple change like this. At Sandhills Sports Performance, we specialize in helping clients find their heels and turn on the right muscles. If you would like to learn more, click HERE to sign up for a FREE complementary consultation with us!
It has been shown in studies (Vico et al, 2014; Alghadir et al, 2015) that tongue position contributes significantly to postural stability and potential muscular strength. Why is this? It’s because the tongue is part of a myofascial chain called the Deep Front Line. Myofascial chains are lines of pull throughout the body which distribute strain, transmit force and affect the structure and function of the body. The theory of the myofascial chains help manual and movement practitioners explore how one structure affects other distal (further away) structures in the body.The line we are discussing, the Deep Front Line, runs from your head to your feet and is one of the main stabilizing chains of the body.
In a proper position pressing up against the hard palate, it provides stabilization down the chain and the surrounding muscles will have less of a stabilization role and are able to contribute more to lifting the weight.
The time you go to the gym or lift something heavy, try this out. Compare your strength with your tongue on the bottom of your mouth versus pressed up against the roof. Try to firmly (but not overly so) maximize the surface area the tongue covers.
Back pain has been a difficult area to manage long-term for many people. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Many physical therapists and trainers look at the back when that’s where the pain is, but that isn’t the most comprehensive approach. The thing is, the human body needs every joint to do its job, or else a change within one joint can cause a cascade of compensations down the chain.
Your major joints alternate between mobility and stability purposes so that the stable joints provide stability for the body to move through the more mobile joints. Low back pain will occur because it is trying to be more mobile to make up for lack of mobility through the hips. In the naturally asymmetrical body, our left pelvis is forwardly rotated and the right pelvis is backwardly rotated. As a result, our femurs (thigh bones) compensate and cannot express full, healthy ranges of motion. If they cannot do that, then the back begins to be more mobile than it should be, causing you pain.
This picture illustrates the position we are stuck in with the aforementioned natural pelvic orientation. So what should we do? A significant amount of back pain cases I see are resolved through training the hamstrings and obliques through proper breathing, particularly on the left side to pull our left pelvis back. If we can get a more neutral pelvis AND breathe well, then we are addressing the root of the problem. Proper breathing is essential because it will help facilitate activation of the obliques and reinforce good ribcage mechanics. In addition, our body will understand that if it can breathe through a new position, the position isn’t a threat and we can maintain that position long-term.
And that is EXACTLY what we do at Sandhills Sports Performance. We treat the body as an entire functioning unit, not as separate parts. This is our approach in both our physical therapy practice and wellness program.
Why All Golfers Must REACH
Do you feel that your backswing or follow through isn’t what it used to be? Are you unable to dissociate your pelvis from your hips? Does your swing feel stuck even after hours of practice? Those are just a few examples of symptoms of a stiff ribcage. A lot of humans, golfers included, have stiff ribcages that limit proper breathing mechanics. If you cannot breathe into your posterior mediastinum (your back ribs), your diaphragm cannot function optimally. To compensate, you will likely kick in your neck to assist you in pulling in air, further stiffening the muscles around your ribcage.
The secret is this: The posterior mediastinum can unlock your golf game. If you can breathe into it, you have the ability to rotate your thorax and thoracic spine freely. A good golf swing involves a posteriorly-rotated pelvis with the ribs back, which allows for optimal rotation. A free thorax will equal a smooth, controlled swing without mobility limitations. A stiff thorax will force you to compensate and use improper muscles such as your back to make up for a lack of mobility where it should be (in your thorax).
Reaching is absolutely one of the most necessary movements a golfer can have in their exercise program. Reaching activities bring down your ribcage to force air into your posterior mediastinum. A great example of this would be a Wall Supported Reach. Notice how her ribs are down and just her low back is on that wall, opening up her upper back to take in air.
Correct breathing is the key to everything. Good respiration during activity will involve a inhalation through the nose and full exhalation through the mouth. Every day at Sandhills Sports Performance, I have every client do at least one reaching activity. It keeps them healthy, feeling good, and fires up all the right muscles.