October 24, 2011

Most Common Golf Injuries

If you have played golf enthusiastically for any amount of time, you are aware of the frustrations associated with making the “perfect” swing. You have probably spent numerous hours reading books, watching video tapes and even taking instructional lessons.

You have tried to successfully cock and uncock your wrists as Mr.Mark O’Meara does. But for some reason, you just can’t get it. You have not been able to successfully implement or mimic all of the tips from the pro’s. WHY? Good question.


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Most golfers will berate themselves because of their inability to complete the perfect swing. But honestly, over the years that I have spent working in sports medicine, there are some very simple answers as to why you are not on tour with the big guns.

YOUR BODY!!! Yes, you and that god given gift of yours simply are not prepared well enough to accomplish the tasks you are asking it to. But, like most golfers, you would rather spend relentless hours reading golf magazines or buying new clubs to gain “the technology” than to address the most important part of your game.

YOU. Well intentioned golfers are missing one important piece of information: You do not at present have the physical agility to reach all of these so-called “perfect positions’ in the first place! So many golfers are trying to do things with their swings that they simply physically can not do.

Does this sound like you? If it does, there is help. Don’t reside to playing below your talent level, take control. You will play your best by making a sound swing, fundamentally, as it is possible within your current level of strength and flexibility.

It really is that simple. Allow your body to move through it full range of motion and you will be surprised what results you will have. I can’t tell you how important good technique is and the benefits of working with a pro.But, I have been told by countless pro’s that physical limitations, that is tight or weak muscle tissue, is the number one complicating factor to a student’s success.

No matter what the pro suggest, whether it is increasing shoulder turn, improved balance or weight transfer, if your body is incapable of achieving this your lessons are a lost cause. It amazes me that golfers will shell out hundreds of dollars on lessons, videos, golf clubs and clothing all to improve their game. And still miss the number one key to success: your physical structure.

There are some key physical areas that need to be addressed when readying the body for the game of golf. Now, this is new stuff. Most golfers stroll from the breakfast table out into the golf cart without any type of preparation. And they wonder why their scores are in the hundreds. If you implement the following strategies into your game, I guarantee you will see an improvement.

There are some precipitating factors to avoiding injuries in golf and to allow your body to work optimally. Poor body mechanics, excessive practice, no regular customized golf-specific exercise program, no consistent diet plan, excessive traveling, carrying baggage, unfamiliar sleeping accommodations and smoking. These factors must be addressed to best implement a complete program.

The most common biomechanical errors that we find are: posture at address, grip, excessive flexion of the lumbar or cervical spine, reverse pivot, lateral sway, non- swing activities or combinations of any or all of the above.

Equipment factors into play as well here. Clubs must be properly fit, allowing you full access of you natural physical capabilities. Make sure to check your club length, the lie angle and weight to make sure it is specifically fit for you. Any good golf pro can help you with this.

In addressing the physical elements of the golf swing, posture is the key. Both at address and with the swing motion proper posture will help you achieve balance. And after all, golf is about balance. It takes on average 1.5 seconds from time of address, through the swing phase to contact and strike of the ball.

Isn’t it amazing how much can go wrong in 1.5 seconds. To best elevated your chances of improper swing technique, always start with a solid, balanced address to the ball. Working with a pro will also help with this.

Now, physically the areas we see that are in need of specific attention are either tight muscular problems or areas of weakness. Once you are aware of these areas, it will be important to work with a sports medicine specialist to detail a program to address your physical level.

Most commonly we find the latissimus dorsi, subscapularis, SCM, wrist extensors, quads, hip flexors, back extensors, piriformis, and hamstring muscles to be extremly tight on golfers. Subsequently, and remember the body loves to balance itself, we find weakened areas in the following muscle groups: lower abdominal, glut medius, middle and lower traps, rhomboids, serratus anterior, rotator cuff and wrist flexors.

General treatment guidelines would be to reduce the muscular restrictions ie. Myofascial release, massage therapy; reeducate postural asymmetries, rebuild strength and endurance and begin a golf-specific functional process. Proper hydration is also important as well as decreasing your level of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.

Most importantly, find a professional who can analyze your swing, find your physical areas of weakness and address them with a golf-specific training program. On the PGA tour today their are 300 tour players. Of those, 230 players (77%) were injured with a total of 883 different injuries.

Most of which were low back problems. When analysis was done on these tour players, it was found that the primary cause of injury was structural. That is, they had short tight muscles that were not allowing them to execute their swing fundamentally correct. What did the pro’s do? Exactly what I am recommending that you do.

Increase your flexibility, increase your strength, increase you level of aerobic conditioning. But most importantly, find a good sports medicine practitioner who can help you design a customized program for your specific needs. It’s worth the investment.

Because no matter the level of club you have purchased, if your body is not capable of the physical demands necessary to swing that little gold mine, everything is a lost cause. Now get moving!!

By The Russell Center
for Chiropractic & Sports Medicine

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