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Whether you are a weekend warrior or local golf pro, you may be wondering, “can chiropractic improve your golf game?” The answer may surprise you.
Discover what happens during a swing, the most common injuries, and a few practice steps to improve your game in our new blog.
How Can Chiropractic Improve Your Golf Game?
The golf swing is a complex coordinated movement, but slight changes to the biomechanics of your golf game can lead to huge advantages.
At first glance, it may seem straightforward…
Swing the club back, then swing forward.
But anyone who has tried to get that golf ball to fly true knows there is a little more to it.
Many professionals in golf are looking for ways to increase the velocity of their clubhead during their swing and improve their directional accuracy.
This is obtained by altering their body position and biomechanics, giving them the full advantage of their range of motion and strength.
To achieve the added motion and torque, many of the professionals in the game have started to incorporate chiropractic care into their training routines specifically focused on coordination, balance, posture, and joint maintenance.
The Secret is Out
Chiropractic care has become a secret weapon for golfers on the PGA tour.
Ben Silverman professes that chiropractic is key to keeping him at the top of his game (2).
Working with Life Chiropractic College, he can evaluate his biomechanics, and they work with him on his balance and improvement to his coordination.
He’s not the only golfer taking advantage of chiropractic care.
Most of the golfers on the PGA tour seek out chiropractic care, including Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, and Tiger Woods (1).
So how can chiropractic improve YOUR golf game? Read on.
What Happens in a Golf Swing
A proper golf swing is a full-body movement, meaning that every joint, from the neck to the ankles, plays a part in performing this action.
Since the swing relies greatly on posture and balance, your joints and muscles are constantly working to hold you in the perfect position.
This article will review a few of the major joints involved in the golf swing…
The wrists, shoulders, low back, and hips.
The most noticeable movement in a golf swing can be observed in the shoulders.
On the backswing, one arm moves across the chest.
Then, we see an arcing motion on the downswing and follow-through that finishes with the opposite arm in the cross-body position.
Any impingement or restriction in the shoulder joint can greatly limit the range the shoulder joint needs to travel through.
Many people tend to forget about the motion in their wrists and instead dedicate significant focus to their grip on the club.
While your grip is necessary, it should also be noted that the range of motion at the wrists can have an exponential effect on the velocity of the clubhead (5).
Velocity, in this case, is the speed at which your clubhead is moving towards the ball.
That resulting velocity is termed clubhead speed, which translates directly to driver distance and accuracy.
The hips and the low back work together to help achieve the backswing phase of the golf swing.
Both hips must be able to internally and externally rotate during the golf swing, while concurrent rotation occurs in the lumbar spine.
Mun et al. found that golfers with a history of low back pain demonstrate decreased rotation at the hip joint.
The Most Common Golf Injuries
It is not known which portion of the golf swing causes so many injuries.
In golfers, the most common injury we see is low back pain, making up 24-36% of the reported golf-related injuries according to Mun et al.
Theories set forth by Mun and his team include excessive rotation at the lumbar spine,overextension, and high moments of torquecentered in the low back as the golfer moves through the downswing and follow-through phases.
Regardless of the cause of the low back injury, golfers (especially with a history of low back pain) are more susceptible to low back injuries that can become chronic over time and significantly impact their game.
As we discussed above, the hips and the low back need to work together to accomplish the different phases of the golf swing.
It is well documented that golfers with a history of low back pain demonstrate decreased hip rotation and lumbar extension, two of the major motions required for a proper and effective swing.
Several factors contribute to your risk of a low back injury, including your age, body mass index, and a history of low back injuries (4).
These factors are by no means a foregone conclusion, and there are maintenance care modalities and exercises you can perform to help keep you in the game.
Another significant injury we see in golfers is Medial Epicondylitis in the elbow.
This condition, commonly referred to as Golfer’s Elbow causes pain along the inside of the elbow.
If left untreated, the condition can begin to cause pain radiating into the wrist and hand and can even start to affect your grip strength.
The repetitive motion of the golf swing can also begin to take a toll on the wrists and the forearm muscles.
This is especially true where the muscles and tendons of the forearm attach at the elbow.
Some golfers with this condition will notice pain during their downswing and into the follow-through motion of the club.
Many treatment options for this condition include chiropractic adjustments, massage, therapeutic exercise, and icing.
The Importance of a Proper Golf Warm-Up
Core stability is an important part of protecting your low back.
The Sword Pull exercise is a great way to work on core stability while incorporating movement at the shoulders.
Flexibility is also essential to help maintain a full range of motion.
Many stretches and yoga classes can be beneficial in helping keep your shoulders, wrists, and hips limber.
It’s important to warm up before you tee off.
Many golfers fall victim to overuse injuries from always swinging and rotating on the same side.
Incorporate movements like warm-up swings on the opposite side to exercise core balance and develop muscle flexibility through a more extensive range of motion.
Going for a short walk can also help get your blood flowing and warm up your muscles before taking that first swing.
Additionally, the cooldown after the game is just as crucial as the warmup.
After hitting the range or playing 18 holes, take a few minutes to stretch out before heading to the clubhouse.
You’ll notice a reduction in exercise recovery time and better muscle and joint performance, mainly if you play several rounds over a long weekend.
Chiropractic: Not Just for Golf Pros
So, you don’t plan on playing on the PGA Tour.
That doesn’t mean following some of their training tips and techniques shouldn’t be part of your game.
Seeing a chiropractor can help you stay in shape for that Sunday tee time.
Clearing any joint restrictions in the spine, shoulders, and wrists can help with the range of motion, core stability, and joint synchronization needed for a comfortable and practical swing.
Additionally, working with a chiropractor can help spot muscle weaknesses or biomechanical changes in the hips and low back, leading to future injuries.
As we discussed, the hips and low back work in tandem to achieve the rotation for the golf swing.
Core stability exercises and some mobility work in conjunction with chiropractic care can help give you an edge in your weekly game and make the experience more enjoyable.