Physiotherapy and Golf

Mark Brennan MCSP MMACP Physiotherapist

Golf is one of the most technically demanding sports on the body.  There is an intense demand on the flexibility, control and strength of the body, all in a relatively short space of time, that is a golf swing.  This combined with walking, on average, over 4 miles (when playing 18 Holes) up down undulating or even hilly terrain makes golf a physically demanding sport.

We spend lots of time focused on the equipment we use, whether it be the latest driver or the difference between regular or stiff shafted irons and these often don’t come cheap.  But we often neglect the most important piece of equipment we have and one that can’t be traded in, our own body!

The whole body is used in golf, and therefore making sure all areas are working as they should be, is important for injury prevention. This can also lead to enhancements in performance and allow you to get the most out of your coaching lessons with a golf professional.  Often positions in your swing can excessively load parts of the body that will eventually not tolerate the load anymore and can become painful.

How can I help my body?

Keeping a generally good level of fitness is the most basic way and is helpful not only for golf but also for general health. This great video on you tube™ says it perfectly http://youtu.be/aUaInS6HIGo. Golf is very much a one-sided repetitive sport so counteracting this by rotating the body in the opposite direction is a good way to help reduce this effect on the body.  This can be done by making a few left handed practice swings during a round or after every 10th ball on the range (for a right handed golfer).  I refer to these as  posture breaks, where you use a different posture or movement to the one you are used to or repetitively doing.

 

Warm ups before you play are essential, and to me, there is no excuse for not warming up before a round or warming down after a round. It usually only takes 5 to 10 minutes and can even be done at home before you get to the course, if you are worried about what your mates might say! It will prepare your muscles and tendons joints and nerves for what is ahead, allow you to swing to your potential from the first tee, and help your brain focus for the round ahead.  Miguel Angel Jimenez is often joked about for his warm up routine http://youtu.be/RGiGEDnU6Tg (the cigar is optional but not recommended!).  However, I say fair play Miguel, no wonder he is still playing competitive golf late into his golfing career.  Below are some examples of golf stretches for before and after a round or a practice session.

Upper and mid-thoracic rotation stretch

Assume the golf posture and with the club across your shoulders make a full shoulder turn until you feel a SLIGHT stretch. Hold for 45 seconds and repeat to the opposite direction. Repeat 3 times each side.  This stretch can also be done with the club lower in your mid back and hooked under your arm pits to make sure you work both the upper and lower thoracic spine.

You will get more from a lower intensity stretch that is held for longer than a hard stretch. It is also safer.

Posterior shoulder joint stretch

Assume the golf posture, pull your left arm across your chest (for a left-handed golfer your right arm). Feel a slight stretch and hold for 45 seconds.  Repeat three times.

You will get more from a lower intensity stretch that is held for longer than a hard stretch. It is also safer.

Hip rotation stretch

Sit on a chair or bench, bring your left ankle up onto your right thigh. Gently push your left knee down towards the floor and lean your body forward until you feel a gentle stretch on the left buttock/hip area.  Hold for 45 seconds and repeat 3 times on both legs.  If you feel pain in the groin stop. You will get more from a lower intensity stretch that is held for longer than a hard stretch. It is also safer.

The stretches above should not cause any pain. If they do do not continue and consult your physiotherapist or healthcare professional.

A golf specific assessment from a physiotherapist/healthcare professional (with an interest in golf performance and rehabilitation) will evaluate your flexibility, movement control and strength.  It is a very specific way for you to prioritise what is most important for your game.  This is also very helpful if you have a history of injury to help highlight how your swing may be contributing to the injury and to assist in your long term management of the problem with corrective exercise and sometimes manual therapy. Here at Witty Pask and Buckingham, I specialise in assessing golfers from an injury risk reduction perspective with a specific Golf Screen and Exercise Programme and Specific Physiotherapy when someone has a particular injury.  For information on the golf specific physiotherapy screening please contact the clinic.

Good Golfing.

Mark