Floating For Golf Performance?

Floatation for Golf Performance? 

With Sergio Garcia winning the Masters (and a snazzy green jacket) and the best golf season just ahead, it’s never too early to think about the best ways to improve your golf performance.  The road to lower scores and better golf may not lie in your biggest Bertha, but more in the way you address the game both metaphorically and practically through your posture.  The key can be found within a creative new method to improve your golf-specific muscle memory which involves a gravity defying technique.

Since the beginning of the Tiger era, those in the industry knew there was an edge by focusing on the physical side of golf and by 2010 golf fitness became a household term. Embracing the physical side of golf is crucial, especially if golf is your passion and playing well is important.  Demonstrating poor posture anywhere from address to finish can have a greater impact on your game than your high dollar clubs or fancy golf ball and can be responsible for almost any swing fault.  Common examples of poor golf postures are roundedness in the shoulders with a hunched mid and upper back, a protruding chin/head, or excessive spinal curves as seen from the profile view. 

Proper posture for a golfer requires one to have the ability to maintain static postures, as well as through a range of motion, called dynamic posture.  Attaining and maintaining these proper golf postures requires a balanced approach of stretching tight muscles and strengthening weak muscles, which is beyond the scope of this blog. However, muscular re-education, which is often the hardest concept to grasp, may be facilitated within something called a float pod.  

A float pod or float tank is a fiberglass, 9’x5’ eggshell shaped tub, with a hinged lid. Inside the pod is 175 gallons of skin temperature water (94 degrees) in which a half ton of epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) is dissolved. The effect is that you are effortlessly buoyant. It is called floatation therapy, floating, or R.E.S.T. (restricted environmental stimulus technique). Golfers can use floating to leverage their game by working on postural subtleties, while floating face up for an hour - defying gravity.  Why not? If professional athletes and Olympians are floating for performance, it must be doing some good.

The pod itself is located in a private room with a shower.  You shower, then climb in and make your way onto your back, face up.  To enhance the experience of weightlessness and to play with additional sensory input, you can choose to close the pod lid or to keep it cracked, turn off the pod light or leave it on, listen to ambient music or float in silence.  The combination of the skin temperature water and the salt saturation literally makes you feel like you are in a cloud.

Without any physical pressures related to gravity as when standing, sitting, or lying, floating affords a unique place to experiment with positions and postures that are hard to find when gravity is involved.  This type of sport-specific posture practice makes it much easier to find these same postural adaptations in your daily routine and on the golf course.  

Here’s what you want to do while floating for golf performance: First, while in the face up floating position, begin to draw your breastbone or sternum toward the roof of the pod.  Your shoulders automatically depress. Experiment with subtleties of this action and how your muscles adapt to that position. Explore how it feels to consciously control your shoulder blade without gravity. Now, experiment with your hands by your sides and slowly begin turn your palms toward the sides of the pod and back toward your body and feel the lower shoulder blade muscles engage.  Next, tuck your chin slightly. This will give the feeling of an elongated spine. Any and all of these movements should also free up your ribcage and your ability to breathe easier. 

Enjoy the novelty of being able to find these golf performance positions while in the anti-gravity state of floating. Chest up and out, shoulders back and hands pull down towards floor, chin tuck. Sounds almost like a golf lesson for those who embrace golf fitness…  

Importantly, before getting out of the pod, visualize your perfect golf posture.  Then after your float and once dressed, take a minute and try to repeat those same chest, shoulder, arm and chin actions while sitting, standing, driving and eventually while holding a golf club through static and dynamic postural movements.  Try stepping outside the box this season and float your way to better golf performance.

Dr. David Berv is a certified chiropractic sports physician, retired golf teaching professional and owner of The Float Zone, a floatation center in Richmond, VA.

For more on golf performance and floating, contact Dr. David Berv : david@myfloatzone.com