Better Movement for a Lifetime of Golf
Better Movement for a Lifetime of Golf? Would you like to play golf with less pain? Would you like to know why your back, neck, or elbow hurts every time you play? If so, you may benefit from a golf analysis from your local Ivy Rehab physical therapist. Golf is one of the most popular lifetime sports, for many reasons. It is low impact, low intensity, and fun for all ages! There are really 2 major reasons why people quit playing golf. First, some folks struggle to be average golfer. Second, they hurt themselves every time they play. Neither of these situations is ideal for someone who wants to pick this leisurely sport up as a lifetime activity. Luckily, a physical therapist can help you improve in both areas.
In the area of playing better golf, a physical therapist can do a few things to help
First, they can assess and evaluate your movement ability. For instance, if you cannot rotate your hips enough on your front leg, you will struggle to follow through with your swing. If you do not have enough extension in your wrists, you will struggle to get the shaft of the club in the slot at the top of your swing. If you do not have enough external rotation in your back shoulder, you will not complete your full backswing. These are just a few things a physical therapist can assess to determine some physical limitations that may be affecting your golf game negatively.
Second, many physical therapists are credentialed through the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) in the area of golfer health to closely work with swing coaches and fitness professionals to develop a plan in which you can improve your weaknesses to develop an all-around better game. The TPI program teaches healthcare professionals, fitness professionals, and golf professionals to speak the same language and work together for the benefit of the player. You do not have to be a professional golfer to have a team of professionals around you who support your health, strength, and golf game. In fact, this team approach is preferred in modern medicine and athletics. One thing should be made clear, however; most physical therapists are not swinging coaches. But due to our extensive knowledge of the human body, biomechanics, and extensive professional training, we can understand the golf swing and what makes it work. In addition, a TPI-trained physical therapist can speak intelligently with a golf professional and fitness professional about what limitations are noted in the assessment, and how this may affect different phases of the swing. This can play a large role in making all the pieces fit together for a successful golf game.
Pain may also be a significant factor in why you cannot get better at golf
The larger area in which a physical therapist can make a difference in your golf game would be in the realm of pain and dysfunction. Playing bad golf may potentially make you want to quit playing the game, but playing in pain will certainly make you hang up the cleats. Pain may also be a significant factor in why you cannot get better at golf. If you cannot play enough, practice enough, or perform proper swing mechanics all due to pain then you will get the double whammy; pain AND bad golf. No one wants this poor combination of scenarios.
A physical therapist, at the most basic of levels, is a movement expert. We examine, evaluate, and assess movement function and dysfunction in all areas of life. The golfer’s body is no different than that of any other athlete, but the demands placed on it are 3 dimensional and potentially violent. The body shifts laterally, moves front to back and most importantly rotates viciously to create acceleration and force into the golf ball. The body has to generate all of this from the ground upward. So, to play pain-free, many areas of the body must move in sync to create the rhythm and flow desired to propel the ball forward off of the clubface. The rotation creates shearing forces in the joints. Imagine twisting the stem off of an apple. If you were to just pull the stem, the likelihood is that the stem will stay put. But, if you twist the stem and wind it up, it only takes a very small force to pluck it off the apple. This twisting creates a shearing force on the apple stem and therefore requires only a small force to rupture the fibers of the stem. The same can be said for the human body. The wrists, elbow, shoulder, neck, low back, hip, knee, and ankle all rotate during one golf swing. If any part is either too tight, too loose, or too weak the chain is bound to break at the weakest link. For many golfers, this causes low back pain, hip pain, elbow pain, wrist pain, and even foot/ankle pain. The most common clinical findings are typically low back pain and elbow pain (or golfer’s elbow). When these areas become painful, general movement is limited. Pain can last hours, days, or at times even weeks/months. This is a sure way to decrease your golf participation, success, and fun. Many people only play once or twice a year due to the amount of pain they have from playing golf. Wouldn’t you like to swing a golf club pain-free? Or be able to play in a charity tournament on a whim for a cause you support? What about just spending time with your buddies outside of work?
Better golf mobility and increase pain-free movement
Physical therapy is the perfect arena in which to combine the improvement in function to allow for better golf mobility and to increase pain-free movement where golfing is no longer a painful endeavor. Your local Ivy Rehab physical therapy clinic can guide you to the right golf professional in your area, and improve your ability to properly perform the mechanics of the golf swing with decreased injury risk. Both of these situations together will help you play more golf, better golf, and pain-free golf. And it may even help you enjoy the 19th hole since you will be able to walk to and from the clubhouse without crippling pain.
It is never normal to play golf with pain. Physical activity should not hurt unless you have extenuating circumstances that are unresolvable. If you have pain in any fashion when playing golf, please see a physical therapist help you resolve the temporary problem before it becomes a permanent limitation. Don’t wait! Reach out to your local Ivy Rehab clinic and get your golf assessment, and play better and more pain-free golf for a lifetime.
Dr. Dusty Quattlebaum, PT, DPT, OCS, Cert. DN, FMS Certified, SFMA Certified, TPI Certified
Dusty Quattlebaum is a Physical Therapist located in Shelby, NC, and has practiced for 6 years with a clinical specialization in orthopedics. He obtained his board certification in orthopedics in 2017 and has remained focused on orthopedic physical therapy throughout his career. Before physical therapy school, he was a collegiate baseball player at Gardner-Webb University where he was a 2-time Academic All-American. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Chelsea, and they have 2 children together, Rowen 5, and Maylea Jae 2. Since his baseball career ended he has been interested in golf, both professionally and personally. He is TPI certified and loves to help athletes of all levels to obtain their best function. He also is certified in the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) and Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA), and both of these play a large role in the TPI golf assessment as they were developed together. He focuses on individualized treatment on the causes of pain, and corrective movements and hands-on manual therapy skills to provide the best care for each of his patients.