If you want to be skilled at golf, you will at least need desire, determination, hand-eye coordination, …and some talent 😊
For the game itself, you´ll need to develop sound fundamentals, shot-making skills, course management, a keen understanding of the mental aspect of golf, equipment, and physical conditioning. Sounds like we´ve described the perfect modern-day golfer, right?!
Today’s technology means there are endless possibilities to improve your game – from video analysis, Doppler radar, SkyTrack Launch Monitor to an expensive moveable weighted driver – however, there is one piece of equipment that still gets all too often neglected: your body.
Many golfers feel the psychological component of golf is their greatest challenge, yet completely undervalue the biomechanics and conditioning that is required to play the game well.
To demonstrate this Isy and Sarah at Elite Performance Therapy took on the ultimate challenge: take an already highly skilled golfer and make them even better!
Clubhead Speed: 94 MPH
The Process: How we did it!
Golf instructors can teach you about every aspect of the swing, but what happens when you physically cannot get into those positions? Besides frustration, injury becomes increasingly likely.
To understand what the body can and cannot do, the key starting point is a physical screen to assess a golfer.
The Golf Screen
This is a physical evaluation that brings to the forefront any issues a golfer may encounter. In essence it is a musculoskeletal assessment of the body to identify and isolate physical limitations, which may lead to poor performance and possible injury. Along with a Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA), the major components of the kinetic chain involved in the golf swing (the pelvis, thorax and arms) are individually assessed to determine if there is an optimal transfer of load from the ground to the ball. It is also important to include fundamental movements, looking at speed, power, and agility.
Here at Elite Performance Therapy, we have developed our own unique and proven screening process which allows us to consistently track, measure, and develop a player´s golfing performance.
Case Study: John Walker
Aim: To improve his Golf Performance
Full Orthopaedic and Neurological Assessment
We assessed John´s active range of motion (the motion John has when he initiates the movement) and a full passive check of movement (the motion achieved when a practitioner moves the body).
This active versus passive movement gives us an indication of muscle tone and whether there is a structural reason (joint) for lack of movement or a functional reason, such as tight muscles. We did this throughout John´s body which included the neck, shoulders, thoracic, lumbar, hips, knees, ankles, and toes, noting passive and active ranges.
In John´s case, he has had previous hip surgery with bilateral hip resurfaces so we expected to find a significant reduction in hip rotation and restrictions in his squat pattern. However, John actually was able to squat through a full range (better than most) largely due to an excellent outcome from his hip surgery and good ankle flexibility.
What we did find was reduced thoracic mobility, reduced hip rotation (although still a good range), and restricted pelvic rotation. He also had some chronic neck stiffness and upper thoracic stiffness.
The next stage of our assessment was a neurological assessment:
The golf swing requires the power of the arms, but maybe – and surprisingly to some, to hit the ball further and with power a strong core and strong hips are essential. This is the powerhouse for your swing.
Using specific muscle testing we found that John has an inhibited (weak) left glute. The hamstrings fired up well, but they also fatigued quickly.
So, what does this mean?
Power and endurance of power is important to maintain strength throughout your game of golf. In John´s case, a glute that isn´t firing will have significantly affected his power as the glute is an extensor of the hip. Paramount for your golf swing!
To recap: to have the optimum performance you need a range of motion and power!
Many professional golfers use clinical massage and Chiropractic and there’s a good reason: It works!
Tiger Woods is unarguably an amazing golfer with natural abilities and skills. However, even with his natural high level of skill, he relies on clinical massage and chiropractic care to keep him in good golf shape. He considers regular treatment essential to his game, saying, “I’ve been going to a chiropractor for as long as I can remember, it is as important as the practice of my swing.”
….Back to the Case Study!
As muscles and joint experts, we use a range of techniques including soft tissue massage, myofascial release, trigger points, joint mobilisation, joint manipulation, medical acupuncture, cupping therapy, and IASTM… to name but a few!
To help John improve his golf performance our focus was to improve hip rotation, increase thoracic mobility, and manipulate through his low back to help the nerve input to his glutes.
We used a combination approach of specific soft tissue release to those areas of muscular restriction and thoracic mobilisation and manipulation to increase thoracic rotation. We included needling to help stubborn areas of muscular tightness, manipulation to the low back where specific joint restrictions were identified. This increases the afferent nerve input to his hip muscles so creating increased power output.
After just one treatment John had a significant increase in power to both hamstrings and glutes. He had better thoracic range and felt more flexible through his hips.
Identification of muscle imbalance was discussed we prescribed John specific mobility and strengthening exercises to support our findings.
On return for John´s second treatment he still had some signs of the limited hip range and pelvic stiffness we had originally identified; however this glute and hamstrings were still firing well.
Did we succeed in our challenge?
Sports performance – in this case, golf – is our speciality and we love what we do! The challenge of working with an already good golf player and taking their game to another level -higher than their perceived expectations- is how we get our fix!
John did more than excel himself and the results speak for themselves:
Clubhead Speed: 94 MPH
Clubhead Speed: 102 MPH
Whether you are a golfer in your teenage years, 20s, 30s, or 40s, you are going to need to know about fitness to add power and golf-specific conditioning to your game. At Elite Performance Therapy we understand you would like that extra 15 yards on your irons and want to be comfortable taking repetitive swings without body aches and pains during or after a day of golf.
Perhaps you a golfer in your 50s, 60s, 70s, and worried about being able to continue your passion? We understand you want to give yourself the best opportunity to extend your game beyond most individual’s limits and perform at a high level.
You’ve worked hard on the mechanics of your game, your swing, and your approach. But we come back to the original challenge: Have you worked hard on the motor behind it all?!
Here at Elite Performance Therapy, we work with both amateurs and professionals. We are here to take you to the next level … and it doesn´t need to take long! Whether it is to win your next bounce game, lower your handicap, secure the club championship, progress through the various professional tours or simply to enjoy golf without pain, we can help 😊