A good golf swing is like riding a bike, it requires perfect balance and symmetry as you move dynamically from side to side.
However like riding a bike, when we lose balance things can crash and injuries can occur. At the Injury Rehab Centre our Physiotherapists and Osteopaths servicing patients from the Cheltenham, Moorabbin, Mentone, Highett, Hampton, Black Rock, Beaumaris and Heatherton suburbs see many have injuries in golfers such as lower back pain and golfer’s elbow that are associated with muscular and joint range of motion imbalances. This could either refer to significant difference in strength of a muscle or a restriction in movement resulting from a ‘tight’ muscle or joint. In almost all of these cases rehabilitation involves trying to iron out these differences.
So how does this relate to golf injuries?
Plain and simple, golf is a very repetitive and one sided sport. If we estimate that an average golfer may play twice a week and hit the range once. A normal round could include a bucket of 30 range balls beforehand and perhaps 50 full shots (with 2-3 practice shots) out on the course. With a conservative estimate of 80 full shots per round, we are probably looking at a volume of approximately 200 swings per day. This quickly adds up and could easily exceed 500 swings per week for a regular golfer. Now, you can begin to appreciate the repetitive nature of the golf swing.
The golf swing does involve your spine rotating both ways. One way during the back swing and the opposite as we follow through a shot. However, studies and general common sense would suggest that the movement requires specific and different demands from muscles from one side of the trunk to the other. For example, for a right hander the muscles which rotate the body to the left (the downswing movement) may develop a better ability to produce power as we normally try to accelerate to develop club head speed during the downswing. Conversely, our trunk muscles which rotate to the right then need to ‘put the brakes on’ to decelerate the the body during the follow through part of the swing and may become specialised at this.
How do we avoid an imbalance in our golfing spine?
The simplest solution is often the best solution and in this case this rings true. We can begin to implement some change by introducing practice of the opposite swing direction. For a right hander, this involves taking practice swings on the left with either a left handed gold club or perhaps more practically with R handed club turned on its end. See the video below to get an idea of how to implement this.
Some practical pointer’s for practicing the reverse swing
Reverse your regular grip, take time finding a comfortable position
Start small: practice chipping and small pitching strokes
Progress to a full sized swing and ensure proper follow through
Don’t be too aggressive atlas initially, 50% effort should be enough
Try to achieve a 1:1 ratio between regular and reverse swing direction when warming up
Begin without a ball, Progress to using a ball especially as practice like this could become very handy out on the course.
Now, in an ideal world, you would perform at least one opposite swing for every regular swing. If you can attempt to do this you will be well on your way to achieving good balance from side to side. The best way to try and do this is to have an equal number of practice swings in the opposite direction while warming up on the driving range. You can also, perform them while out on the course, however in my experience it is often difficult as you feel like you may be holding up play within your group. It is also possibly best for your flow and rhythm to stick to your regular side while out on the course. Therefore, try and practice a few more reverse swings after your round to balance the ledger at the end of your golfing day.
Get started NOW! Also, be mindful that this practice is likely to provide more than just body balance. It will provide you with a potentially very useful option when your ball is up against the wrong side of an obstruction!
What can the Physiotherapists and Osteopaths at the Injury Rehab Centre Cheltenham do for you?
At the Injury Rehab Centre we specialise in assessment and collecting actionable data using the latest technology previously only found in elite sporting institutions particularly in understanding (relate to blog post). We do this using the latest assessment technology usually only found in elite golfing academies including:
M.A.T Assessment created by the therapists of the Injury Rehab Centre to laser focus on areas of flexibility, balance and movement that identify whether your are at risk to sustain a golfing injury.
Slow Motion Video Analysis to IDENTIFY YOUR BAD GOLFING HABITS and give us more insight into what part of your swing could be causing your golf related pain.
Strength Testing to identify any strength discrepancies that have a huge role in increasing your injury risk.
Force Plate Technology to put a number on differences in the power you can generate through each leg that can lead to compensations and can cause repetitive stress injuries.
Traditional Physiotherapy and Osteopathy examinations to identify dysfunction.
Next our treatment process achieves pain relief in the shortest amount of time by using hands on Physiotherapy and Osteopathy techniques such as soft tissue massage, joint manipulation, articulation and stretching techniques. This may include the use of the True Stretch system as well as Dry Needling and Taping techniques.
Finally your management plan will involve an individualised training plan to build your strength and capacity (muscle and tendon strength, stamina, specific flexibility) often to improve discrepancies from side to side that could be the true cause of of your golfing imbalances resulting in back pain or golfers elbow.