By Professional Physical Therapy with Jason Blum, PT, DPT, Certified TPI Golf Specialist
Golf is a lifetime sport that requires a lot of repetitive movements, which can put a significant amount of stress on the body. Whether you are a new golfer or a seasoned veteran, spending hours on the golf course or driving range can put you at risk of injury. It’s important to get your body ready for the season to avoid common injuries that may occur in your shoulders and knees and to avoid conditions like low back pain and golfer’s elbow.
Professional’s Jason Blum, PT, DPT, certified Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) golf specialist weighs in and says “Golf is a delicate balance between the utilization of mobility and stability throughout our bodies to create an efficient way to produce success repetitively while still enjoying the sport. When one of these areas in our bodies is not performing appropriately, it is important to promptly intervene to reduce injury risk so you can return to the sport safely.”
Following a few injury prevention strategies can make all the difference before you hit the golf course. We will also discuss how a physical therapist can help educate golfers on proper posture and movement mechanics. They can also improve your strength and core control so you can reduce risk of injury and stay pain free on the course.
Tips to Play Pain Free Golf
- Physical conditioning: Emphasis on core strength and flexibility are key to maintain proper and repeatable swing mechanics which can reduce injury risk.
- Strength training: Strength training can help improve overall fitness. This can include exercises that target the core, back and upper and lower body muscles.
- Flexibility training: Flexibility training can help improve range of motion and reduce muscle tension. This can include stretching exercises for the shoulders, hips and back.
One of the best physical conditioning practices for golfers is to train in ways that activate and encourage the correct muscles to fire without mimicking your golf swing. For golfers, deadlifting activates the glutes and encourages more athletic movements to be initiated from the hips. This is an important lifting technique that is often a component of attaining a good golfer’s position on every stroke. Note the hinged hips and flat lower back in the deadlift photos below.Steve Colvin, TPI-Certified Strength & Conditioning coach says, “When done correctly, the deadlift is an effective exercise that helps strengthen both the core and the lower body with one move. It’s also great for developing muscles that are required to keep the body in golf posture when swinging the club.”
- Warm up and cool down: This includes things like dynamic stretching before play which may include a light bike or jog, or simple dynamic movements for your arms, legs and back. After playing, consider working on light static stretching to avoid stiffness and maintain proper mobility.
- Proper technique: This includes using a relaxed grip on the club, keeping the back straight during the swing, and maintaining good posture throughout the swing. Avoid over gripping the club throughout swing to decrease elbow and wrist injuries. Attempt to initiate both backswing and downswing with your pelvis/hips first if your body allows.
- Equipment that fits you: This can include things like properly fitted clubs that are tailored to your swing and physical characteristics. You should also seek shoe wear that fits your needs. Some may need footwear that offers more stability to an already mobile individual, while others may require a less restrictive shoe to allow for increased mobility throughout the swing.
How Physical Therapy Can Help Golfers
Physical therapists can play an important role in helping golfers improve their posture and avoid soreness or pain before playing golf. Some of the ways a physical therapist can help include:
- Assessment of posture and movement Physical therapists can assess a golfer’s posture and movement patterns through proper movement screenings to identify any areas of weakness or imbalance that may be affecting their swing. In some cases, a video of a patient can provide further detail on the swing characteristics. This assessment can include a detailed analysis of the golfer’s stance, grip, backswing, downswing, and follow-through. By identifying areas that need improvement, the physical therapist can develop a personalized treatment plan to address these issues.
- Postural correction Once areas of weakness or imbalance are identified, physical therapists can use various techniques to help correct posture and movement patterns. These techniques may include exercises to strengthen weak muscles, stretching to increase flexibility, and manual therapy techniques to release tight muscles or joints. By correcting posture and movement patterns, physical therapists can help golfers maintain a more efficient swing and reduce the risk of injury.
- Develop a conditioning program: Once you have identified any physical limitations or weaknesses, a physical therapist can develop a conditioning program that will best address your individual needs. The program can focus on improving your flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance.
- Education and advice: Physical therapists can educate golfers on proper posture and movement mechanics, as well as provide advice on ways to modify their swing to reduce stress on the body. For example, a physical therapist may recommend using a lower lofted club to reduce strain on the lower back or suggest using a wider stance to improve balance and stability. If you are working with a teaching pro, they can also communicate with them and use a collaborative approach to your game.
The experts at Professional Physical Therapy are trained to evaluate movement patterns and identify any areas of weakness or imbalance that may put you at risk for injury. While some of our clinics have Titleist TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) specialists that are certified with advanced training, any of our licensed physical therapists can develop a personalized treatment plan to address areas of weakness and help you remain healthy on the golf course. Get started and request an appointment for a consultation today.
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