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Desk Jobs: The Silent Killer Of Your Golf Game

We all know that sitting isn’t the best for us. Poor posture can be uncomfortable, even painful, but how can it bleed into our golf game?

What Happens To Our Bodies When We Sit?

When we sit for long periods, changes happen in the way our muscles fire, stretch and work to support our structure which become more ingrained in your body the longer we spend in the position. You slump, your head starts to sink forward and your shoulders roll forward. As your shoulders come forward, your core muscles become inactive as you’re held somewhat upright by your spine and low back. Finally, you’re sitting directly on your hips and hamstrings which causes the muscles to become tight and weak. All of this results in the infamous “desk posture.” Here, certain muscles can largely become inactive and sit in an especially shortened or stretched position and as a result we end up with tightness and weakness that can be uncomfortable and affect how we play. This, over time, can wreak havoc on our ability to be consistent and pain free.

What’s Happening And How Does That Affect My Game?

There are several important ways that a chronic desk posture can affect your golf swing. Below we’ll take a look at the four main rotary centers as well as the hamstrings and how they are affected:

Neck

As you sit and your head creeps forward slowly, your neck muscles will start to tighten up into that position. This can cause tightness and discomfort and result in being less able to rotate your neck freely. This can show up in our swing as being unable to make a full shoulder turn without either taking our eye off the ball or making compensations (shifting) in our lower back to lean to where we can see the ball. This can place unnecessary stress on your lower back over time and can result in swing inconsistencies as you make those small shifts to compensate for a tight neck.

Shoulders

As the shoulders spend time in a rounded forward position our shoulders go further and further into internal rotation. When you swing with your shoulders that are rounded forward and internally rotated, your shoulder is restricted from reaching an externally rotated position. In this seated internally rotated position, the external rotator muscles also become less active and become weaker. External rotation is the movement we need, especially in our trail shoulder, in order to shallow the club and create a consistent and effective swing arc. A lack of ability to externally rotate can result in a “chicken wing” or an over the top swing that can make creating consistent contact difficult.

Trunk

As your head creeps forward, your trunk starts to lean forward too. The more time spent like this will start to solidify the back in that “flexed” or forward position. That position decreases the degree of shoulder turn we’re able to get by restricting the thoracic spine’s ability to rotate. To try this one for yourself, sit up tall and turn your shoulders to the right and left. Next do the same thing but curve your back forward- what you’ll notice is much less rotation the second time around. The other issue is that the lats (big back muscles) will become tight which will also contribute to restricted shoulder turn. This means that if our upper back is constantly rounded from sitting, our shoulder turn in both directions will be restricted from making a full and free swing.

Hips

If you are sitting on your butt, those hip muscles are largely inactive as they aren’t being used to stabilize you in that position. You are also sitting directly on these muscles which decreases blood flow to the muscles of your hips including your glutes and the muscles responsible for hip rotation. This combination of not changing positions and inactivity results in a weakening of the muscles and decreased mobility. As golfers this hurts our game in a couple of ways. First it decreases the amount of stability in your hips which will carry over as instability in your swing. The second way it kills us is by gradually taking our ability to rotate the hips. Hip rotation is paramount in golf with a particular emphasis on hip internal rotation. A lack of hip internal rotation is a huge predictor of lower back pain as if we can’t rotate at the hips our bodies will attempt to compensate with swaying and sliding. It can also restrict our swing and make it difficult to post up and get through the ball effectively. All of this can result in a swing that is less powerful, less consistent and less comfortable.

 

Hamstrings

As you sit, your hamstrings become largely inactive. As with the glutes, you aren’t using them because they aren’t required to stabilize you in a seated position and sitting on them causes blood flow to those muscles to restrict. This causes the hamstrings to weaken. The “knees-at-90” position of your legs when sitting puts your hamstrings in a short position which your body and nervous system get used to which creates a feeling of tightness and a lack of mobility over time. This lack of mobility and strength can result in a golf posture that’s inconsistent and loss of posture and early extension characteristics in your swing.

 

What Can Be Done About It?

There are a few things we can do that are each extremely important:

Mobility Work

Mobility work consists of soft tissue releases, passive mobility drills or stretching and active mobility drills. What these allow us to do is reduce tension in overactive muscles, reach new ranges of motion and build control into those new, greater ranges of motion. Mobility work is not an overnight fix; however, we have seen consistent practice over time to be massively successful in restoring and improving mobility that translates directly into the golf swing.

Strength Training

Particularly of those muscles that become underactive and weak in the seated position. Especially important to strengthen are the areas of the upper back, back of shoulder, core, glutes and hamstrings as these muscles become largely inactive during long bouts of sitting. Addressing the strength in these areas in a safe, progressive fashion is extremely important for any golfer who works at a desk.

Check Yourself Throughout The Day

One of the most powerful things we can do to improve our posture is to become aware of it. Throughout the day, try to get up and move whenever those opportunities present themselves. As you sit, try to become aware of how you’re sitting and if you notice that you’re hunched over, sit up tall and try to stack your head and shoulders right on top of your hips. It can also be a helpful point to at times sit up and rotate your thumbs outward to create some external rotation in your shoulders!

Send us an email or set up a free strategy call if you’d like to see how we can help you improve your mobility, strength and ultimately your golf game. Don’t let your desk job be the reason that you aren’t enjoying golf at the level you’d like to!

Author-

Dillon Hines

Golf Performance Coach

Disclaimer: This blog content is for general educational information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. References available upon request.

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Chris Finn

P4S Golf
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