Improving Your Golf Game

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Improving your score

Can we really do that? As a few clients can attest, it’s possible. 🙂

One of the most common recreational reasons a new client walks through our doors is the pain or decreased mobility from the game of golf. They are frustrated because they hurt during or after play, are tired of shanking the ball every time at the tee, or they just want to play a better game with their friends or business contacts. I’ll break down the explanation of how we can help shortly, but the important thing to realize is that each of these scenarios can be helped through soft tissue manual therapy! Investing a few hours of your time to correct some common muscle and fascial patterns that are unique to golfers will go far in helping you to achieve your pain and mobility goals. The most common areas of the body that get undue stress from playing golf are shoulders and lower back. (Does this sound familiar? Yes, you say? Read on….)

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Shoulders are the most mobile joint in our body, and when we say “shoulder” we mean the  glenohumeral joint (the actual shoulder joint) and the scapula, lateral and posterior ribcage, and surrounding muscle which is called the shoulder girdle. There are many many muscles that attach to the scapula (22, I believe), and also quite a few that attach to the shoulder joint, including the four called the “rotator cuff”.  All of these muscles in the joint and girdle help to guide the arm in elevation, depression, internal and external rotation, and upward and downward rotation. Because the shoulder is incredibly mobile and moves the arm in so many directions, shoulder injuries are extremely common. Because the golf swing, especially the “perfected” one, is a precise and repetitive pattern with velocity, extra strain is put on all, and I mean ALL, the muscles of the shoulder joint and girdle. The muscles and fascia also become contracted (creating painful trigger points) and mold into what we call a holding pattern – a limiting pattern of movement that is an adaptation of a repetitive use scenario. When the body adapts and molds into these holding patterns, there is extra strain on the tendon attachments of the muscles, and over time, tendinitis (acute) and tendinosis (chronic) can occur. If left untreated, a decompensating pattern can occur where other muscles around the area start to compensate for the inefficient movement and then become painful with similar issues. In that scenario other structures such as bursas can become irritated, and tendiosis in the shoulder can become a tear requiring surgical intervention.

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The lower back is a common pain complaint
for golfers as well. There are many complex reasons for this, including functional imbalance in the glute muscles, pelvis and Sacroiliac joint which can be addressed through NMT and Physical Therapy combined. For our discussion here, we will focus on the lower back specifically. The “lower back” is the area of the back that surrounds the Lumbar spine (L1-L5), and includes important muscles for stability and movement namely the Quadratus Lumborum (QL), erector spinae group (paraspinals) and multifidus. These muscles provide all the flexion and extension of our spine in this area, as well as some rotation. I say “some” because of the anatomy of the lumbar spine… the lumbar vertebrae are much larger than the ones in our neck (Cervical) and in our torso (Thoracic), and are larger because they are stabilizers helping to transition the spine from more flexible movement to a very stable pelvis. Rotation in the lumbar vertebrae is meant to be Very limited. In golf, the vertebra are asked to rotate to a greater degree than what they are meant to in order to achieve that swing. And all those muscles that attach to the Lumbar vertebrae, especially the multifidus, have to contract and stretch with the various aspects of the swing in order to facilitate that movement. When that happens repetitively, the muscles will adapt, compensate and eventually decompensate in order to continue that movement. Have you ever known a golfer with a bulging or herniated L4-L5 disc? You probably know a few… All the adaptation in the muscles around the spine as well as the forced rotation can cause excessive wear and tear on the lumbar discs. Over time degeneration happens, and golfers are sidelined with spinal surgery and rehabilitation. Treat your body before this happens to you!

 

How do you prevent these injuries? We know that decreasing the frequency of your golfing is not going to be a popular solution with you, so we have developed a strategy to keep you in the game while we correct those parts of your body that are affecting your pain and function. Our approach is to treat the body two-fold: current injuries or pain complaints and correcting holding patterns. Our protocol (which is customized based on each individual client’s tissue) is to incorporate both Neuromuscular Therapy for treatment of muscular trigger points and adhesions to decrease muscle contracture and pain, and Myofascial Release Therapy to correct tight connective tissue that surrounds that muscle and molds into the holding patterns that restrict muscle movement. We generally recommend having three Neuromuscular sessions first, then three Myofascial Release, then customize a combination of the two based on which system needs more attention to achieve your goals. If you have a whole-body holding pattern, which can happen to golfers who have played for many years, our KMI Structural Integration series for whole body realignment and posture may be recommended. After we have corrected your tissue, we recommend having tune ups every Quarter for maintenance, or as needed for treatment if areas of pain or immobility arise.

If you are in extreme pain, we highly encourage you to seek medical treatment with a Physical Medicine or Sports Medicine doctor who can order imaging and diagnose your condition before beginning therapy. If you have mild to moderate pain, we can treat you and then recommend seeing a medical doctor or physical therapist for corrective exercise if your response to our work is limited.

Don’t let pain sideline your golf game. We know how important it is to you, and we can help! View available sessions here.

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