When I worked as the 1st Physical Therapist on the PGA Tour (1984-87) I ended up treating 278 of the 300 touring pros with a variety of injuries - mostly to the lower spine.
And despite the predominant thinking of the time... that golf was an unusually stressful game for our body and will eventually produce some sort of injury... I always contended that,
"The golf swing isn't the worst thing for our body...
instead it's our body that's the worst thing for our swing!"
What do I mean by that? Well, the golf swing most certainly does potentially create a tremendous degree of rotational pressure on our spine, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. And, if we are not properly conditioned for the physical demands placed on our body when we play golf, then we 'will' get injured. It is a simple matter of 'cause' and 'effect'... or said differently from the world of biomechanics...'structure' governs 'function'. Simply, the 'structure' of our body is what controls the 'function' of our body... including the function of our golf swing.
Therefore, if our body structure supported by effective conditioning through golf-specific posture, balance, flexibility, strengthening and stability exercises is not where it should be, then our golf swing motion will be 'dis-functional'... with measurable swing flaws and inconsistencies that produce bad shots and the stress and strain to our body that leads to injury.
With that said, injury management and prevention in golf does require an examination of both our swing motion as well as our level of golf-specific fitness. Both 'form' and 'function' must be individually evaluated by golf swing and fitness experts in order to come up with the 'ideal' golf swing for each golfer... the swing that produces optimal performance and is least stressful to our body.
When looking specifically at the biomechanics of the full golf swing motion, there are many theories as to what part of the swing is most stressful and causes the most number of injuries. Can you guess what phase of the golf swing produces the most injuries?
Is it the backswing? Is is the
downswing? Is it impact, the
follow through or finish?
Well, it's a bit of a trick question... because the truth is, depending on your body structure - particularly your body's structural imbalances (weakness and flexibility variances from one side of your body compared to the other) - the answer could be 'any/all' of your full swing motion could be creating enough stress in your body to cause an injury... including your address posture!
However, for the purpose of this discussion, I am going to focus on the portions of your golf swing that are typically the primary stressor to your lower back and lead to the most number of golf-related injuries among both amateur and tour professionals alike.
The answer is...IMPACT (the phase of the swing where the clubhead makes contact with the ball).
IMPACT this is where maximum forces are generated in your body as you attempt to produce the maximum velocity of the clubhead and your spine is most susceptible to injury - especially if you 'over-slide' towards the target.
A healthy lower spine (lumbar spine) is structurally designed to bend forward and extend backward... it is NOT designed to rotate or slide laterally. But when your primary rotational joints and muscles in your body (your hips and middle portion of your spine... called the thoracic spine) are not properly conditioned to take on the responsibility of your full swing rotation, then your lower spine attempts to take up some of the rotational responsibility and physical demand of your golf swing.
The result? Something called 'shear' stress to your lower back muscles and joint. Kind of like taking a door and
instead of normally opening and closing the door like it is designed to do through the hinges. The shear stress to the hinges of the door would break the hinges right off... just like the 'hinges' of your lower back respond if you 'slide' through the impact phase of your swing instead of properly 'rotating' from your hips and middle spine.
trying to push or pull the door sideways to get it to move
So knowing this important swing concept should make hitting the ball better and preventing injury to your lower back easy, right? Just don't slide. Avoid this movement and you won't have any issues. Ha!
Remember, the problem is not that golfers don't understand what to do. If they have been to even one golf lesson with a pro, watched even one instructional episode on the Golf Channel or read even one issue of a golf magazine, they will have the necessary information for how to rotate their hips and spine better through the hitting zone. The real problem that needs to be fixed before the slide will be corrected is their lack the physical ability to rotate their middle spine and hips.
If you can't 'rotate', then the lateral 'slide' becomes
your natural movement through impact.
The solution to your slide... and fixing your lower back pain?
Here are '4' key exercises I'd like for you to try. They will help develop more flexibility, strength and stability in your hips, strength and stability in your lower spine and mobility in your middle spine, and help build more explosive rotation as well through impact.
|Exercise #3: Golf Posture and Core Power Builder
|Exercise #4: Twist and Hop
NOTE! If any of these exercises seems too difficult or painful for you in any way, discontinue the exercise(s) immediately and contact your doctor. It is always best to schedule a comprehensive, golf-specific physical performance evaluation with a golf fitness expert before attempting any exercise program so that a custom golf fitness training program can be safely designed to meet your individual needs.
To your better... More 'Golf-Fit' Game,