Learn how to maintain your posture with these simple moves to achieve optimal performance (and prevent injuries!!!) next time you play.
In today’s training I am going to walk you through a few basic corrections for the dreaded C-Posture (slouch). Losing posture during the golf swing will result in a number of issues leading to poor performance – and C-Posture is one of the most common characteristics I see that leads to a loss of posture. This poor posture characteristic is the result of daily activity done out in front of us (typing on the computer, eating, driving, etc…) as well as an over training of the anterior upper body.
One Golfer’s Opinion: Warming up properly when you play “out of the trunk” can minimize injuries on the golf course.
Can you remember the last time you arrived at the course an hour early to stretch, hit some balls, putt, chip, and get ready for the round of golf? No? Me neither. Some players do arrive as much as an hour early for each round but if you’re like the majority of golfers, you play almost all of your golf right “out of the trunk.” Playing “out of the trunk” is when you pull up to the golf course, get your clubs, check in at the pro shop, and go right to the first tee. Sound familiar? In the best cases, you may get in a few putts, a few practice swings, and then you hit your first tee shot of the day.
Playing this way is common to most golfers but as we get older, not properly warming up can lead to injuries when we play. In fact, even fit golfers, young or old, can be injured if they don’t warm up properly. Luckily, as members of LocalGolfer.com, we have access to a qualified fitness trainer, Adam Huycke, who can provide us with great information on the proper ways we can get our bodies ready for the first swing, the next time we play “out of the trunk.”
Adam Huycke is a Titleist® Performance Institute Certified Fitness Professional. He is also a Certified Personnel Trainer from the American Council on Exercise and a Level-Two Junior Coach. Adam holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colorado and serves as the Executive Director of the Junior Golf Performance Academy at Tetherow Golf Club in Bend, Oregon, an OB Sports® Managed facility. Additionally, Adam has worked in the health and fitness industry for the past decade with significant experience in managing clubs, running personal-training studios, and leading sport-specific group classes. He has worked with a variety of players on fitness including a U.S. Women’s Amateur Champion, Men and Women’s Collegiate Golf teams, and PGA teaching professionals.
I would like to thank Adam for sharing his thoughts and experience with us.
As golfers, many times we play “out of the trunk” . . . meaning, we grab our clubs, check in at the pro shop, take a couple of practice swings, and go. Many early season injuries result from our bodies not being ready to swing. What are your recommendations for the best exercises to warm your body up quickly before a round to prevent injuries?
Adam Huycke: Great question. First, I want to stress the amount of force the golf swing applies on the human body. It is critical to warm up appropriately to prevent injuries and optimize performance, and I don’t mean just hitting balls before the first tee. There are several quick movements you can perform prior to playing to help prepare the body for the demands of the golf swing.
The first simple warm up move I always recommend to my players is the “leg swing.” The leg swing is a great movement to release your posterior chain (lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves).
To perform – start by swinging one leg in a smooth slow motion forward and back. Over the course of 45+ seconds begin to swing your leg higher and higher as you began to warm the tissue. Repeat on the other leg. You may use a golf club to assist with balance.
Second, I recommend performing a few alternating “Knee Pulls.” This is a great move to release even more tension in the posterior chain. Enhancing pelvic awareness (mobility and stability) is a key in performing quality golf swings.
To perform – stand tall, slowly pull one knee up pulling it towards your chest holding for no more than 2-3 seconds, then switch. Be sure keep your upper body remains nice and tall.
Another quick warm up I always recommend is a “Staggered stance with Reach and Rotation.” I really like to include this movement during my warm up because it demands lower body stability through the staggered stance – key during the golf swing. The reach aspect of the movement helps open up the anterior portion of the body, realigns the spine into proper neutral posture (especially after hours at the desk), and activates the tissue throughout the shoulders and upper back.
To perform – grab a golf club with both hands just outside of shoulder width. Step back with one foot and reach both arms overhead lengthening your torso. At the top of the reach rotate your shoulders in the direction of your front leg. Lower down, switch legs, and perform on the other side.
Static stretching – holding a stretch in a challenging but comfortable position for a timed count (usually 10-15 seconds, i.e. touching your toes) has become controversial in the fitness industry. Many experts say the static stretch is not good for the body and are no longer recommending this as general fitness exercise. What are your thoughts on the controversy and your thoughts on static stretching itself?
Adam Huycke: There are real benefits associated with static stretching – the real focus needs to be directed to when you stretch to determine what type of stretching you should perform. The controversy of static stretching really revolves around its use during a warm up. Research has exposed that static stretching actually breaks down the tissue leaving it in a weaker state. With this being said, you should not perform static based stretching prior to playing golf.
Dynamic stretching – in which your perform a movement that lengthens tissue, but is held for no longer than 3-5 seconds, is the recommended choice prior to activity. The warm up movements above are great examples of dynamic stretches.
Static stretching can, and should be performed either post workout (when adequate oxygenated blood flow exist), or at a time in which you will not be performing any real physical activity. Static stretching will increase ones flexibility unlike any other form of stretching – this is why it is still recommended – just at the appropriate time.
Many golfers, including some of the world’s highest profile golfers, have developed back problems during their careers. Although back problems can result from a variety of activities, what are your thoughts on the best exercises to bring into our fitness plans to prevent injuries?
Adam Huycke: Golf and back pain unfortunately go hand-and-hand. Like I mentioned before, the golf swing places a lot of force on the body, especially the lower back. Before we get to the exercises, it is important to understand the key contributors to lower back pain during the swing. One of the main factors contributing to a lot of the golf related injuries is poor posture.
Most amateur golfers suffer the dreaded slouch or C-Posture (rounded shoulders and Thoracic spine (upper/mid back) as a result of leaning forward with a forward reach and a tucked pelvis. Bad posture is just one result of the overwhelming amount of activities we perform on a daily basis – typing on a computer, eating dinner, driving a car, etc… these activities do not require us to engage our core.
With that being said, focusing on developing solid trunk (core) and proper posture is key during your fitness regimen. Core exercises, pelvic stability and mobility, and developing proper function throughout the joint-by-joint relationship is a must. When trying to develop these key regions it is a good idea to utilize stability tools. For example, performing a squat on a BOSU (a half ball tool) requires you to not maintain a neutral spine angle for limited center of gravity change to be able to stand up, but it will also require the use of the core region as well.
Staying on the back theme, many golfers develop lower back problems and are specifically advised to work on hamstring strength and flexibility. How are the hamstrings and lower back interrelated in terms of fitness?
Adam Huycke: This is one of the biggest issues I deal with when it comes to injuries and proper function from my clients. The body can be broken down into a joint-by-joint relationship. If you start from the ground up – the foot joints are designed to be stable, the ankle – mobile, knees – stable, pelvis – mobile…. and so on alternating up through the body. This alternating relationship is the basis for proper function. Unfortunately, most people do not experience optimal function because these segments (joints) are being forced to do things they were not designed to do.
When it comes to the lower back and hamstrings, one of the key segments we look at as fitness trainers is adequate pelvic function. When there is a limitation in function (i.e. mobility), the body will be forced to pull on other segments, higher or lower, to find additional mobility for this function. In this case, the directly connected segments are down to the knees (being hamstrings & glutes in the posterior chain) and up to the lumbar spine (lower back region).
In most cases, if an individual has tight hamstrings, then they will most likely have limited pelvic tilt (typically caused from sitting a lot), causing the body to pull and stress the lower back region to find this additional mobility.
If we increase the flexibility of the hamstrings, we can allow the pelvis to function more appropriately resulting in a reduction of stress on the lower back region.
Specific to golf, many golf analysts have criticized Tiger Woods for his incorporation of weight lifting into his fitness training surmising the growth in the size and strength of his upper body may be a contributing factor to his overall back problems. What are your thoughts on weight lifting as part of a golfer’s fitness routine – both on the professional side and weekend golfer level?
Adam Huycke: I oppose the critics view on Tigers size and strength. First – is he really that big? It’s not as if he is the size of a power lifter or bodybuilder. Second – I can assure you that his routine is comprised of very functional exercises to help build strength with a great deal of consideration for mobility and stability. He is a very well rounded athlete when it comes to body function. The issue, I believe, lies in his ability to overpower the golf swing because he is so fit and athletic – not because he maintains too much size.
Strength training should be a key element of any player’s fitness regimen, regardless of how often they play. It is important to maintain lean muscle mass, not just for golf, but for daily life as well. I would stress however, that strength training be done in a functional manner as described earlier with functional exercises focusing on mobility and stability. Placing an emphasis on developing total body function through a series of dynamic movement patterns is the key to building body efficiency. Get off the weight machine, grab a set of dumbbells, a stability tool, and make movement patterns found in daily life – just with the additional resistance. Load, lift, rotate, and deliver in a safe and smooth movement pattern.
In your career as a fitness trainer, what is the most misunderstood element of fitness in your opinion?
Adam Huycke: The most common misconception about fitness is that – “it takes too much time” – or “I don’t have enough time”. What people need to realize is that with small steps each and every day, great accomplishments are achieved over a period of time. Everyone has 10 minutes a day . . . if you don’t, you need to reevaluate your priorities – after all without your health nothing else matters.
Taking on activates for a dedicated 10 minutes per day equals 70 minutes per week, roughly 300 minutes per month, and over 3,650 minutes (60+ hours!) of exercise per year. That is incredible when compared to “0”. We are all at different fitness levels. I workout a lot compared to the average person. But, I can still get in an incredible workout in just 10 minutes, if done correctly.
The same goes for nutrition – nutrition is a key factor to achieving your weight loss goals and enhancing proper performance. Cutting out just 1 extra 200-calorie snack per day may not seem like anything. But after 7 days that’s over 1,400 calories. After 30 days, you’re looking at roughly 6,000 calories (over 1.5 pounds!). After an entire year, that equals an amazing 73,000 calories or over 20 pounds!
The point is – small changes today, will make a huge difference tomorrow, and certainly next year!
End of Interview ###
Editor’s Note: Local Golfer would like to thank Adam Huycke for taking the time to share his thoughts and opinions. Do you have any fitness questions you would like to ask Adam? Share a comment or your question in the comments section. We would love to hear from you.
BIO: Keith Cook is a contributing editor for localgolfer.com. His career highlights include rounds in nearly every US state and numerous countries throughout the world. He is a retired 29-year US Military Veteran and Ashford University Alumni living in Michigan. Follow Keith and Local Golfer on Twitter @_KeithCook and @LocalGolfer.
*BONUS: Below is an OB Performance Club “Cheat Sheet” including the Warm Up Exercises Adam recommended in this article . . . plus a few more. Incorporate these warm-up exercises into your next “out of the trunk” round prior to teeing off to play better golf and to help protect yourself from injuries this golf season.
To find out more about Adam Huycke and what OB Sports Performance Club can do for you – including Streaming Functional Golf Training Workouts “Anywhere + Anytime,” Click here.
Access Adam’s full Warm Up Guide and FREE Training VideoClick here.