Who doesn’t love a good game of golf? The feeling of being outdoors at a beautiful golf course, having a chin wag with your mates and then finally hearing that glorious “klonk” sound as you hit the perfect swing with your driver before watching the ball beautifully soar away into the distance.
But can we take our game to the next level? Improving technique is one thing, but improving your body’s ability to perform the precise, specific actions required in golf is quite another. I like to keep things fairly brief and to the point, so I’ll get straight to it.
From a functional healthcare professional’s perspective, there are 3 main things to consider:
- Shoulder mobility: To perform a full swing (and do so comfortably without putting yourself out of order the next day or two), your shoulders need to be able to function well within their full range of motion. If your range of motion (or ROM for short) is limited by either joint adhesion or muscle tension in your rotator cuffs, you will not only struggle to get that full swing, but also put yourself at risk or developing a strain injury in your shoulder, which can take a long time to heal meaning you will be unable to play for some time.
- Thoracic rotation: A golf swing not only requires movement in your shoulders, but also your thoracic spine, which is the large area of your back between your shoulder blades. Your thoracic spine is made up of 12 segments, each of which perform little “mini-movements” that together give your spine the flexibility and range. If one or multiple of these joints are stuck or restricted, your range may be limited and stop you from achieving the full swing. Furthermore, these joint restrictions may become inflamed as a result of forced movement and produce mid-back pains.
- Muscle strength: This is an obvious one. A good swing is a strong swing. How many times have you heard your golf instructor tell you to strengthen your triceps or your forearms? Probably not enough! These are the main two muscle groups that are activated during a swing. However, it’s not all just about being strong! It’s also important for your safety, because strength = stability! A muscle that is weak or under-active is more likely to become injured and develop micro-tears.
So where do I come in with all this? Well, as a chiropractor it is my job to ensure your body works at its best by improving joint function and muscle integrity. For my patients who love a game of golf, I focus on adjusting and mobilising their thoracic spine and their shoulders, as well as prescribing them exercises that help build up strength in their upper body. I have seen some incredible improvements with people’s performance in golf, as well as their reported levels of discomfort during and after a game (if any!).
But what can YOU do starting NOW? Here’s a few good starting tips:
• Push-ups: Do them every day, doesn’t matter how many. If you can do 50, then do 50. If you can do 5, no problem – do 5. Get in the habit of regularly activating the muscles in your upper body and core, so when you go to play a game of golf your muscles know what to do, and push-ups are a great way to do this.
• Stretches: Stretch out your shoulders before playing golf! If you’re tight and your muscles are tense, you will risk injuring them. Do 10 minutes of stretching before a game.
• Spinal mobility exercises: Work on improving joint mobility in your spine and upper body. There are many exercises that can help you achieve this – ask your Chiro or Physio!
If you need further help and advice, or are concerned about how to improve your performance while also minimising risk of injury, don’t hesitate to contact our clinic!