PT Tip of the Month Archive

Golf

Introduction

As temperatures in New England begin to rise, golfers will soon be hitting the links. From a physical standpoint, golf is a dynamic sport requiring the movement of several joints and limbs in coordination with one another. During a golf swing, the body also requires certain joints, such as the shoulder and hips, to have motion and certain joints, such as the feet and lower back, to have stability through limited and controlled movement. If there is a problem in any one area, the golf swing can be dramatically altered, which can lead to further injury. About 82% of golf injuries come from overuse, with the majority of injuries occurring in the lower back, shoulder, and elbow. Being screened by a physical therapist and following a proper exercise routine can help decrease the risk of injury.

Stability vs. Mobility

In order for a joint to be mobile, it must be able to go through a normal range of motion and it must have good muscle flexibility. If someone has shoulder arthritis or is suffering from a frozen shoulder, the shoulder will be unable to move through the full, normal range of motion. Also, if a person has either tight lats or pecs, this will also restrict the full mobility of their shoulder joints. In both of these examples, the golf swing could potentially be affected. Another problem could develop if one joint loses motion. For example, if the hip were to lose its ability to fully rotate, one may try to use their body to compensate by gaining motion through the lumbar spine, and this could increase the likelihood of developing low back pain.

In order for a joint to have stability, it must be able to stay in good alignment and proper position, despite the effects of any outside forces placed upon it. Stability is created by combining three things: balance, strength, and muscular endurance. The lumbar spine, as an example, must stay stable through out the golf swing, because this allows for the generation of speed and power around the mobile joints. If this lumbar spine lacks core strength or endurance, it will start moving and this will lead to a loss of power or an increased potential for injury.

How can physical therapy help?

Here at Beantown Physio, we have vast experience helping patients recover from injuries. So if you are ready to return to the golf course, but you have picked up a shoulder or back injury from all the shoveling this winter, we will be able to assist you in getting back to full function. If you try to play through the pain, it is possible that you will make the injury (and your golf score) worse, so it is a good idea to have it looked at before picking up your driver.

Another way physical therapy at Beantown Physio can help is by preventing a future injury. A quick 11-13 step fitness screen is designed to help identify physical limitations such as joint stability/mobility problems or muscular strength deficits. With the results of this screen, we can establish a plan of action and home exercise program to help you overcome any physical limitations.

One thing to keep in mind is that most physical therapists are not swing coaches. We may be able to find physical problems that could lead to a swing fault, but it is up to the golf professionals to address the swing directly. We understand the importance of golf professionals and we will be willing to contact them to discuss our physical findings.

Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you feel like you could benefit from an evaluation.

References

  1. Boyle, Michael. Advances in Functional Training. On Target Publications, 2010.

  2. Cook, Gray. Movement: Functional Movement Systems: Screening, Assessment and Corrective Strategies. On Target Publications, 2010.

  3. Gosheger, G, Liem, D, Ludwig, K, Greshake, O, Winkelmann, W. Injuries and Overuse Syndromes in Golf. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. May – June 2003; 31(3): 438-443.

  4. Wadsworth, L. Tyler. When Golf Hurts: Mulculoskeletal Problems Common to Golfers. Current Sports Medicine Reports. December 2007; 6(6): 362-365.

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