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Spring is here, and so is the 2018 Masters Tournament held at the Augusta National Golf Club. As the four-time Master’s Champion, Tiger Woods makes his return to Augusta along with Bubba Watson coming off a win at the WGC Play Championship, the excitement for us, weekend golfers, to get back onto the course has us preparing for our own game. But what do we need to play like these guys? Or what should we do when we have a golf injury that sets us back from the game for a few weeks?
The Sequence of the Golf Swing
Let’s first break down the sequence of the golf swing then talk about common golf injuries and what we can do to not only treat these injuries but prevent them and improve our entire golf game in the process.
When we’re setting up for our ambitious 300+ yard drive, we’re looking for our feet to be our foundation. Our back swing requires extension away from the ball with a nice large arc to produce the power we need to hit the ball. Our left wrist (Right wrist if you’re left handed and play lefty) needs a sufficient amount of “flexion” as it stores energy and allows the club to go back farther before adding the speed to the swing. It also makes sure we square our club face at impact with the ball. As our body transitions to the downswing, we start moving the other way, our hips and lower body rotation allow us to pick up speed. Our hands are in the same position as we make impact with the ball. At this point, our weight shifts forward, our belt buckle shifts forward, and the right knee and foot start “banking”. Continuing to our follow-through, our right toe is in the ground, our belt buckle is facing our target, we unhinge our wrists, and we’re holding our club over our left shoulder watching the ball go the distance.
Limitations that Affect Your Swing
In reality, most of us would like to hit the ball correctly as described above, but we all have our weaknesses whether they are mental, physical, or environmental. For some of us, not having enough power during the swing may be the issue. Getting enough rotation of the lower body may be hard to achieve. This all affects your swing mechanics. For others, slicing the ball is the issue or they’re playing on wet grass and can’t get a good grip during their swing.
Either way, it is frustrating, and it results in you not performing at the level you want while adding unnecessary divets on the green.
As we know, golf requires repetitive motion. With any chronic, repetitive motions there are injuries associated with it. Although golf isn’t known for high-level injuries that you may get from other sports such as football or rugby, injuries still do occur. They’re more common in amateur golfers than they are in professional golfers and below we find out why.
The golf technique requires endless hours of practice to achieve a certain level of proficiency. As we learn the game, we make quite a few mistakes, but we try repeatedly to correct it. This constant repetition takes a toll on our body This is more the case if our body does not have the overall mobility for it, or maybe we aren’t conditioned well enough for it. Then add improper technique. It is a recipe for injury.
Low Back Pain
One of the most common complaints associated with golf is low back pain. More often than not, this lower back pain comes from when a person swings the golf club too forcefully. It may also occur if someone unexpectedly shifts during their downswing. Pain can also stem from the lumbar disc which supports our spinal vertebrae. But, rarely does that happen without having a prior disc issue which may have been aggravated by the golf swing.
The second most common complaint associated with golf is elbow pain. We term this “Golfer’s Elbow”. You may have been to another doctor’s office for this and heard the term “Medial Epicondylitis”. That is nothing more than a fancy way of saying you repeatedly twisted your forearm during the swinging motion over an extended period of time, or you may have hit the ground with your club one too many times the last time you were out on the course. Either way, Golfer’s elbow is a direct result of chronic repetitive overuse. The tendons of the forearm become irritated and inflamed. It may hurt as you continue to golf, or you noticed it got worse after a chip shot that resulted with a large divot. Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with Golfer’s Elbow:
– Pain or tenderness at the inner forearm
– Numbness or tingling
– Pain down to the wrist and hand
– Inability to grip club comfortably
– Pain with repetitive swinging of club
Poor Swing Mechanics
Both low back pain and Golfer’s Elbow are direct results from poor swing mechanics and overcompensation. When we try and smash the ball and swing too hard or grip the club too hard and hit the ground during a swing or try and find another way to swing the club better because we lack the rotational movement – we put ourselves in compromising positions which set us up for injuries.
So, what’s the solution to all of this? You may be thinking to yourself, “How can I improve my golf game?”, “How can I play without pain?”, “How do I prevent this from happening to me?”
The answer is simple. Chiropractic!
How to Avoid Injury while Golfing
At ProHealth, we love treating golfers. Want to know why? Because the results are incredible. We’ve seen guys who can’t rotate their body go from a half swing using all arms, to a full swing using their hips and lower body. But before we get ahead of ourselves and start celebrating you adding 50 yards to your drive, having that full back swing, that beautiful follow-through, and a better-balanced stance, let’s dive deeper into how chiropractic allows our patients, and people like Tiger Woods, to perform at such a prominent level.
When we look at the rotation of our trunk, we get most of our rotation from what we call our “thoracic” area, which is our mid to upper torso area. We get about 35 degrees of rotation from that area, versus the 5 – 7 degrees in our lumbar spine. This is due to the way our spine is formed. Our lumbar spine is designed to allow for more bending (forward more so than backward) versus our thoracic area where we have more freedom to rotate. Our hip muscles and joints are responsible for all ranges of movement. The hip area is where the majority of our power originates. During our golf swing, we want sufficient internal rotation of our front hip – the hip of the leg we shift our weight to during our follow-through phase of the swing. Chiropractic allows the body to properly achieve the desired range of motion of the above-mentioned areas during our swing, along with a balanced stance, and less pain.
Enhance your Game
If you’re having low back pain, elbow pain, neck pain, wrist pain or let’s say you have less structural mobility – it does not matter how much you stretch and foam roll. You will not get the most out of your power and swing. You won’t get the results you want on and off the course. You’re limited to how far you can take your backswing, you’re cutting yourself short with your follow-through, you are off balance, ultimately allowing yourself to be susceptible to injury. If you don’t want to limit yourself to the driving range or course, choose chiropractic to enhance your performance. With proper alignment, full function, and a preventative approach to injuries – you’ll be outperforming the rest of your foursome.
Benefits of Chiropractic’s for Golfers
The benefits of chiropractic treatment for golfers are tremendous. When we provide a chiropractic adjustment to a specific joint in the designated area of your body, we are restoring joint mobility. This allows that joint to be able to move freely throughout its full range of motion. For most golfers, inducing motion to areas of hypomobility (areas of less movement) throughout the spine especially the lower back, mid back and hips allow for a more powerful and efficient swing. Areas which lack movement are often helped by other areas of the spine. This compensation makes us vulnerable to injury, and once the brain senses that you’re doing too much, its defense mechanism kicks in and certain muscles go into spasm or strain themselves setting you back a few strokes or days off the course.
An adjustment to the spine allows proper nerve communication between your mind and body. When there is proper communication throughout your body, your response time is quicker, your muscles can perform at an optimal level, and the feedback from your environment, stance, and the club are all effectively reaching your brain allowing yourself to make the necessary adjustments to your game. This unhindered nerve transmission throughout your body allows you to be more focused, and in the zone. Your muscles are relaxed, as the nerves which control them are no longer compressed in the spine, allowing your body to feel calm and balanced. And to top it all off, your body can recover faster than the competition in between shots giving you that edge. You may even notice that bending to putt shots or pick up the ball is no longer a hassle as you are pain-free.
As I wrap up this post, I hope you were able to take away some valuable information. Having worked with golfers, college athletes, triathletes, and weekend warriors, I know that chiropractic is a highly-effective tool to enhance your performance and decrease the risk of injury. At our office, it is not only chiropractic adjustments. There is also supplemental home-care recommendations that given to you for alleviating pain associated with your lower back, Golfer’s Elbow, and any other area of concern. We will also provide personal, specialized, mobility drills which will improve the efficiency of your swing. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment or call us at the office.