Colorado's beautiful weather, gorgeous scenery, and challenging courses all push people to get out and enjoy a great round of golf. It is often difficult for me to get a round of golf in, but I enjoy it to its fullest when I get the chance to. As a therapist, I often feel that I cannot just watch people and simply exist (which I am working on). It is in my DNA to observe and analyze movements and patterns.
If you have ever had the privilege of golfing with me, you will quickly realize that I am not a golf pro. For the safety of the general public, I should be banned from most courses. That being said, I find the mechanics of the golf swing to be fascinating. It is a very complex task that requires precision with vision, balance, breathing, and muscular systems. Due to the complexity of the swing, there are multiple problems that can arise. On the lesser end of the spectrum (contrary to a golfer's opinion) an individual can have a poor shot. On the more serious end of the spectrum, these problems can lead to injury . Golf is a very patterned sport where the same moves are performed repeatedly.
Here is a compilation of some of today's best golfers.
A common feature that all of these golfers share involves generating a ton of power from the hips. Their backs remain quiet and firm. They shift into and out of their hips effortlessly and, because of this, they do not have to make up for that motion in their backs, arms, or knees. They swing relatively easily and the ball "jumps" off of the club face. When golfers fail to rotate into one or both of their hips, these rotational demands are passed on to joints above and below the hips, namely the low back, SI joints, and the knees. These are the golfers that we see who seem to be swinging WAY too hard! They are trying to get power from somewhere, and they are just picking the wrong areas over and over. This patterned, repeated compensation can lead to structural pathology in these regions. We often see these patients in our clinic with problems ranging from knee pain to low back pain to golfer's elbow. Some of these swing faults include chicken winging, early extension, hitting over the top, swaying, sliding, hanging back, and reversing spine angle.
Here is a good article that talks about several of these problems.
We do our best to not only get golfers feeling better, but we try to teach them how to move correctly to avoid repeat injuries and visits to the clinic. We emphasize to our golfers the importance of getting good rotation in their hips (we stress left hip internal rotation to help golfers get "into their left hip"). This helps to generate power and decreases the chance of compensatory patterns. Here are some of the Postural Restoration Institute™ exercises that we recommend to our golfers when they are out on the course:
1. "Sighting a ball"
• Kneel down on right knee when sighting ball.
• Push up with left leg to rise.
2. "Picking up a ball"
• Reach to pick up golf ball with right hand and stabilize yourself on the left leg.
• Push through your heel and use your left leg to rise.
3. "Standing Supported Left Glute Push"
• Stand facing a step or two away from a tree and push into into it with both hands.
• Shift your left hip back so that you can keep pressure on your left heel.
• Lift your right knee up and turn your right lower leg in. You should feel your abdominals, left outer hip (buttock) and front of your right hip engage.
Golf is challenging enough, and we do not need aches and pains keeping us from enjoying a great round. So, remember to breathe, keep those hips active, and keep that low back relaxed. Gone are the days of "Grip it and rip it!". Welcome to "Rotate and dominate!".