By: Dr. Amir Mahmud
Summer is here and we are all ready to play in the sun. Whether your sport is golf, soccer, beach volleyball, lacross or tennis you have to prepare properly in order to avoid injuries and improve your game. Today we are going to take a closer look at golf. Did you know that there are 40 million golfers worldwide and out of those, 28 million live in the USA? With so many people interested in this growing sport let’s see how you can improve your game and what you can do to avoid injuries.
The first step you need to take if you are just starting out in this sport is to take lessons. You need to have a trained professional teach you the basics and then you can go from there. The point of this article is not to teach you how to play golf but to teach you what to do in order to avoid injuries and improve your game. So, let’s jump right into it.
There are 4 barriers to proper performance in golf:
If you are lacking proper flexibility your performance will decrease and you are at a higher risk of getting injured.
Flexibility, especially golf specific flexibility can give you a huge advantage over a person who is not flexible. You want to have full active range of motion in your paraspinals, hamstrings, hip adductors, calfs, Shoulder girdle muscles (rotator cuff and pecs), wrist and forearms. Let’s take a closer look at a few of these muscles groups and how restrictions in them can affect your game
i. Paraspinals: Paraspinal muscles are involved in spinal rotation: The more spinal rotation that you have the more club head speed you can generate and therefore the farther you can hit the ball.
ii. Hamstrings: Hamstrings are closely related to your pelvis due to their attachment at the Ischial Tuberosity. If you have tight hamstrings the rotation in your pelvis and lumbar spine will be decreased. As a result, your club head speed can be decreased.
iii. Hip Adductors: Your adductors are activated during the transition of weight transfer from the top of the backswing to the start of the down swing. If you have tight adductors it can cause you to “come over the top” during the downswing.
iv. Calf muscles: Tight calf muscles can cause you to move your torso up and down when you are swinging your club. This can significantly affect your accuracy.
So now you can see how flexibility is essential for improved performance. Also keep in mind that if you are interested in hitting longer and more powerful shots you need to increase your club head speed and the only way to increase your club head speed is to increase your range of motion.
Any type of postural instability can predispose you to injuries. When we are talking about stability we are mainly looking at 3 factors.
1. Proper alignment of the back knee over the back ankle
2. Strong Gluteal muscles which will help with the stability of the hips and knees
3. Quadriceps muscles that can support the transfer of body weight into the back leg at the top of the back swing
The swing mechanics is where your golf instructor comes into play. If you have improper swing mechanics you WILL eventually have some sort of injury. The most common type of injury for your average golfer tends to be lower back sprains/strains and elbow injuries from repetitive hyperextension at the end phase of the swing.
This category can be broken down into two sections
1. Mental aspect:
Inability to concentrate during your swings is what causes most of the frustrations that golfers have. The ability to focus right before striking the ball is what separates professionals from amateurs. Here is how the Pro’s do it. Right before they strike the ball they hold an image of the target in their mind. Now you might think that you are doing the same. But if you think about it you are also thinking about your body position, trying to keep your eyes on the ball, making sure you don’t bend your elbow, making sure your legs are properly placed. All of that can distract you from the main goal, which is hitting the target.
2. Environmental aspect:
You might not have had thought of this but the environment plays a big role in your performance on the golf course. Anything from pollen in the air, the pesticide that is used on the course and the temperature/ humidity can all affect the way your body reacts. For example, if your body reacts to an external stimulus and your allergies act up then your muscles WILL react and tighten up. As a result you will not be able to swing with your full potential due to the restricted range of motion.
If you are interested in having your swing evaluated come on in and we will gladly help you. Keep in mind we are not here to change or fix your swing but we are here to find any predispositions to injuries.
Dr. Amir Mahmud is a Sports Chiropractor at CSI (Chiropractic Sports Institute) in Westlake Village. Dr. Amir has vast experience working with athletes both professional and Amateur. He is the current Team Doctor for the Newbury Park HS Lacrosse team, Ventura Country men’s Rugby team, and travels with the Mobile CSI Sports Medicine team caring for athletes across southern California. He can be reached at (805) 371-0737. www.gotcsi.com