It’s amazing how golfers have transformed the modern game by focusing on their bodies. Today’s golfers are much more physically fit and athletic than they were even 20-30 years ago. Back then it was often hard to discern a professional golfer from an “average Joe” just by their physique. Current golfers, however, are typically fit and athletic, and are very devoted to working out and eating right. The emphasis on fitness has resulted in massive gains in yardage. Golfers such as Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau look more like linebackers, and they hit the ball a country mile.
So, you might ask, how does that apply to all of the non-professional golfers out there? Well, most golfers would love to hit the ball further, and the good news is that we can, simply by devoting more time to our bodies. However, it doesn’t mean that we have to become massively muscular. Probably the most important factor in producing optimal speed to hit the ball a long way is flexibility. This includes being flexible in the spine, shoulders, & hips. A golfer such a Will Zalatoris, who recently nearly won the Masters, is a good example. Despite being very thin, he is incredibly flexible and has great mechanics, which enable him to be a big hitter.
One of the main reasons that people lose distance as they age is that they become much less flexible. As a result, their swing becomes much “shorter”, and they cannot produce nearly enough speed to hit the ball far. Even if they were strong, the lack of flexibility prevents the production of a full swing with lots of rotation. The optimal situation is to be both exceptionally flexible and very strong.
Physical Therapy can be very helpful with both of these areas. We are trained to assess your flexibility and prescribe exercises to improve it. Becoming more flexible in the spine, shoulders, and hips will allow you to create more rotation with better mechanics. Most golfers develop compensations in their golf swing because they lack the flexibility to produce the proper mechanics that they strive for. For example, you to take a lesson with the best golf instructor out there, and he could tell you exactly what you need to do, yet you may not be capable of doing it because you lack the flexibility to do so. So improving your flexibility is the most important first step that you can take. Once you have made those improvements, then an investment in lessons can be much more effective.
The other key component to address is strength. Interestingly, many people would think that improving their upper body strength would produce the best results. However, improving core strength and lower body strength is the key. Once you have completed your backswing, the downswing should be initiated by your core and hips, not your arms. A strong core will result in a fast, powerful swing. Unfortunately, most people do not have a strong core, which limits their distance potential.
This article is obviously just a glimpse of the overall picture. But if it is interesting to you, we would love to help you out. The best starting point is a Physical Therapy Evaluation to assess your flexibility, strength, and movement patterns. From there we will be able to focus on the areas that you need to work on to make the gains that you desire. Give us a call if you would like to explore this further!
By: Mason Riegel, PT
Low back pain has become one of the largest causes of pain and disability in the United States. Billions of dollars are spent on trying to care for and remedy this issue. People are advised by friends, coworkers, and physicians to seek out certain types of treatment such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, medicines, diets, or other newfound treatment approaches.
So what to do? If your back is hurting which track do you pursue?
While pain can be a very complex problem there have been ways that consistently show how someone can at least better manage their pain if not altogether get rid of it. The Journal of Pain Research has proposed factors to consider when deciding how to address your pain.
Another area can be more of an environmental factor such as work satisfaction, perceptions or demands at your job or even the attitudes of your employer. These can cause a higher risk or predictability of pain.
Some people also say, “I have a ‘high’ or ‘low’ tolerance for pain.” These pain-related beliefs and attitudes can have a real effect on someone’s ability to recover from a painful condition. Often time someone’s expectations, beliefs, or perception of their condition can have a direct effect on their ability to overcome the condition.
Our attitude as physical therapists is to educate each individual on their specific condition, so they understand what will positively and negatively influence their symptoms. Also, we promote that the person have an ACTIVE involvement in trying to manage their care. Many studies have shown that individuals who actively participate in managing their condition do better than those who passively receive care.
You may be faced with many recommended options to help take care of your back pain. We would recommend that you first understand that there can be many causes of your back pain and especially many things influencing the level of your perception of pain. We feel a conservative approach such as physical therapy often helps people to manage or alleviate their symptoms. If physical therapy doesn’t work for you, there are other options that you can pursue as well.
Give us a call to sign up for a free consultation if you'd like one of our physical therapists to sit down and talk with you about your low back pain, and discuss what PT can do for you.
By: Steve Bartz, PT
Steve Bartz, PT