Posture from the Ground Up

Blame for abnormal posture is often placed on the spine, either the lumbar (low back) or thoracic (upper back). Spinal curvature can be the root cause of poor posture, but weakness is often the true culprit - and it's usually one-sided.

Some physics for you

Muscles exist to keep us upright, meaning we are working against gravity.  This is an important distinction because it means that changes occur from the ground up. All issues occur between the foot and the head - in that order. When assessing posture, it is critical to consider the reactionary forces from the ground-up and not jump directly to the spine. This is not unique to posture - it is true with all musculoskeletal issues. 

Gravity is the primary force that our muscles work against all day. The total load volume on muscles per day from this force is significantly higher than all others, given the time-under-tension (TUT). This is even true for someone who squats 400+ pounds in the gym multiple days per week.

Posture and pelvis in golf injury prevention

Pelvic position is the critical element of the golf swing. It is the hinge point where issues occur as reactionary strategies, often to compensate for problems elsewhere. Poor pelvic positioning at address of the golf ball places excessive stress to the low back, hamstrings, and groin musculature. Lumbar (low back) pain is often the result. Similar issues occur during swing mechanics. The pelvis may slide or tilt if hip or pelvic rotation is restricted. As a result, you are out of position at the top of the backswing and have to correct during the downswing.  

We will cover the essential role of the thoracic spine and foot/ankle in postural position and control of the golf swing in future posts. That bone has too much meat on it for this post alone.

Golf posture assessment for injury prevention purposes

Golf posture assessment for injury prevention purposes

Simple strategies for correction

Sitting too long during a work day, then sitting while driving home, and sitting on the couch at home. Does this sound like you? If so, you are at risk for developing an anterior (forward) pelvic tilt and the issues described above. Abdominal strengthening exercises that focus on limiting extension of the hips and spine are an important part of a routine to fix this - planks are the gold standard. Hip flexor lengthening (through stretching), hamstring lengthening, and latissimus lengthening are also an important part of this routine. Gluteal muscle strength, particularly single-leg activities, should also be implemented.

For more information on correcting pelvic positioning through physical therapy, please contact us.

Dr. Dave Gerbarg

Dr. Dave Gerbarg is the President and Physical Therapist at One Nine Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy in Solana Beach. He specializes in sports medicine for teenage and adolescent athletes.