Improve your Golf Performance

Golf is, without a doubt, one of the most popular sports in the world today. You can go to almost any country, any city, and you will probably find a golf course there!

And as a golfer, you are probably always looking for a new and better way to get that ball just where you want it! We tend to spend thousands of dollars on new golf clubs, new trainers, and new techniques, just to move that little golf ball a little closer to the hole!

But… stop and think… wouldn’t your performance be substantially better if you could just get your body to do what your golf trainer is telling you?

For the majority of people, it’s not the golf club that’s holding back their performance, it’s their body!

Restrictions between your tissue layers prevent you from perfecting that golf swing. Those tight muscles can keep you from attaining the perfect stance, swing, contact, and follow-through!

But there is a solution! We can help you to achieve that perfect golf swing by releasing all those restrictive adhesions in your body.

My area of specialization is the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions and biomechanical analysis – not how to swing a golf club. Any recommendations about the actual techniques involved in a golf swing – I leave to the Golf Pros. On the other hand, through our process of visual analysis, exercise, and myofascial therapy, I have helped numerous PGA, nationwide tour, and amateur players achieve excellence in their games.

Instead of technique, I focus upon the identification of soft-tissue and joint restrictions, and the resolution of the neuromuscular problems caused by those restrictions – with an aim towards improving the player’s ability to perform the required actions.

An efficient golf swing is a great example of power generation. The twisting motion of your body during the golf swing produces an amazing amount of torque and rotational force. Ideally, we should first see motion from the golfer’s hips, generating the power which is transferred through the torso, into the arms, and finally down the club, and into the club head (Kinematic Sequence). A smooth efficient golf swing, that transfers high levels of kinetic energy, is truly amazing to watch.

Unfortunately, an inefficient golf swing still produces high levels of kinetic energy. However, instead of the energy being transferred into the golf ball, the kinetic energy is re-directed back into the soft tissues of your body. This results in micro-tears, which creates an inflammatory response, the formation of scar tissues, and a resultant alteration in motion patterns. Alteration in motion pattern means increased injury and often a substantial decrease in performance.


Common Swing FaultsBack to the Top

Your golf swing is all about proper body mechanics. A good golf swing requires full rotational capacity of nearly every joint involved and must be done – efficiently – easily – explosively – repeatedly. Many swing faults are directly attributable to poor joint mobility, resulting from soft-tissue restrictions.

Common swing faults occur due to:

  • Tight shoulders
  • Tightness in the hip joint
  • Spinal injuries
  • Repetitive strain injuries

Common swing faults are often identified in the following areas of your body, and can be easily corrected through a combination of Active Release treatments and exercise:


Restricted Shoulder Rotation:

When shoulder rotation is restricted, the body compensates with excessive spinal rotation. This can result in back injury since many people already lack flexibility in the spine, and the action of swinging a golf club can increase this problem.

In addition, golfers will notice that they have difficulties in:

  • Keeping their eyes on the ball.
  • Maintaining an optimal swing plane.

This results in fat or thin shots. When the golfer attempts to compensate through the shoulder joint, the chances of a hook or slice increases.

 

Tightness in the Hip Joint – your Rotational Muscles:

Tightness in the hip joint rotational muscles places additional strain on the rotational requirements of the shoulder or spine. Often a golfer will compensate by lifting up during the back swing and then chop down on the ball resulting in a fat shot.

 

 

 

Wrist and Elbow Injuries:

Wrist and elbow injuries often occur when the body does not have the capacity to effectively compensate at either the shoulder or spine. The wrists are then over-used to drive, as well as decelerate the golf club.

 


Why do my muscles feel tight?Back to the Top

Muscles become shortened due to injury caused by trauma, or from repetitive strains that cause micro-tears.

The scar tissue which forms at an injury site is less elastic and more fibrotic than normal tissue, and causes muscles to gradually lose their stretch component. Short, tight muscles are weaker, more prone to injury, and play havoc with your golf swing.

Usually more than one muscle is involved. The body lays down fibrous adhesions between these muscle layers which restrict the muscles’ ability to slide freely past one another, disrupt joint mechanics, and cause the muscles to feel tight.

Shortened muscles and tightened joints all combine to impair coordination, reduce power, and result in further injury. This cycle will repeat itself unless these restrictions are released.

 


How Can Manual Therapy Improve My Golf Scores?Back to the Top

In order to effectively balance your muscles and remove joint restrictions we must first identify your unique pattern of muscle imbalances.

By utilizing a series of muscle balance and swing analysis tests, we can identify the exact type, extent, and location of the muscle restriction. We then use manual therapy (Active Release, Graston Technique) and follow-up exercises to strengthen the muscles to prevent re-injury.

Most importantly, we perform a biomechanical analysis of your golf swing. This analysis helps our practitioners to identify where you have joint and tissue restrictions in your body, and how these restrictions affect your swing.

 

 

Biomechanical Analysis

A typical golf swing can be divided into several biomechanical phases: Address Position, Takeaway, Forward Swing, Acceleration, Follow-Through and Late Follow-Through. Each phase of the golf swing is performed by a unique combination of anatomical structures – a kinetic chain.

Certain muscles act as primary movers to perform the action
Other muscles act as antagonists to counter-balance movements.
Others are used as a base of stability.

If we have a good understanding of which muscles perform which actions, and how they affect motion, then we can prevent injuries and improve performance. Abnormal postural and motion patterns can easily be determined through video analysis. This is what we often do to determine which structures are causing abnormal motion patterns.

Read Dr. Abelson’s blog to learn more about the Kinematic Sequence.


Golf MusclesBack to the Top

To get a better understanding of which muscles are involved in each phase of a golf swing, let’s review each phase.

Address Phase

The Address Phase is the initial starting position for a golf swing. Common biomechanical issues that I often see are:

Shoulders rolled forward – is a common problem that greatly affects a golfer’s power and distance. This is commonly known as a C-Posture, and is often caused by a combination of joint restrictions and muscle imbalances. Most commonly, short contracted chest muscles (pectoralis major/minor), and weak posterior shoulder muscles (Deltoids, Teres minor/major) are the primary cause of this problem. In addition, forward posture greatly reduces your ability to generate force through the process of elastic recoil.

Lack of knee flexion – you will often see that a golfer cannot maintaining a flexed knee position – this is often due to weak quadriceps. This affects the golfer’s ability to maintain a proper spinal angle.

Lack of ankle flexion – is often due to tight calf and shin muscles (dorsi flexors). Without good ankle flexibility, the golfer will have poor balance.

Takeaway Phase

The Takeaway phase involves moving from the Address position into the Backswing position. This phase is essentially the coiling of the upper body into a position where it can store energy for quick release. This is very similar to coiling up a spring before releasing it. The lower body acts as the base from which the spring is released.

In general terms, a strong balanced core will protect your spine and promote good coil and recoil actions. This not only translates into a more powerful and accurate golf swing, but also serves to prevent a host of kinetic chain-related injuries.

Forward – Swing Phase

The Forward-Swing Phase involves moving from the Backswing, through the Down-Swing, into the Horizontal-Club position. During this phase, the right-handed golfer starts to uncoil the upper body while beginning to rotate the trunk in a counter-clockwise direction. The golfer shifts his weight to the left foot, while at the same time his torso, hips, and knees turn synchronously to the left. This uncoiling motion occurs due to the contraction of the abdominal and paraspinal muscles.

The Forward Swing (and the Acceleration Phase) are the stages which create the greatest amount of spinal loading. The force exerted on a golfer’s back during these actions is equivalent to eight times the golfer’s body weight. In contrast, runners only experience a force of three times their body weight, while rowers experience a force of seven times their body weight. This is an interesting finding when one considers that most people think of golf as being a low-impact sport. In fact, due to these forces, low-back pain is the golfers’ most common complaint.

During the Downswing, the golfer’s hips normally slide towards the target – causing the lower back to tilt to the right. Too much of this side-bending action can be a major cause of low back pain.

Acceleration Phase

During the Acceleration Phase, the golfer moves from the Horizontal club position to ball contact. During this stage, muscle energy is converted into club head acceleration.

During the downswing, golfers often decelerate their swing just prior to hitting the ball. This deceleration places considerable stress on the common flexor tendon. This is one reason why elbow injuries (Golfer’s Elbow) commonly occur at the point of ball impact. Poor strength and flexibility in the wrist, forearms, and shoulder are other common reasons for elbow injuries.

It is essential to maintain a balance between the forearm flexors and extensors. This balance allows for a good wrist-cock during the golf swing and acts to protect the hand and wrist during ball impact.

Follow-Through Phase

The Follow-Through phase involves moving from ball contact to a horizontal club position. The Follow-Through phase begins with ball contact. During this phase your body rotates to the left with your spine acting as the central axis of rotation. In addition your hips and shoulders will rotate until your body is facing the target. 30% of all golfing injuries occur during the Follow-Through phase.

During the Follow-Through phase, several muscles work together to decelerate and control rotation through the use of eccentric muscle contractions. During an eccentric muscle contraction, the muscle produces force while it is actively lengthening. Eccentric muscle contractions are often used to control the speed of a movement by slowing down or decelerating a limb.

In general, muscle activity decreases at this stage of the swing, with the exception of the left abdominal oblique muscle (for a right-handed golfer).

Late Follow-Through Phase

The Late Follow-Through phase involves moving from the horizontal club position to the final finish position. During this stage of the golf swing, trunk rotation is decelerating, and all muscle activity is decreasing with the exception of the left abdominal oblique (for the right-handed golfer).

During this phase your wrists rotate over each other to create the roll-over motion of your hands. Your spine hyper-extends, and your body weight fully shifts to the left side.

Understanding which structures are involved in each phase of a golf swing, can provide you with key information to improve your performance. In future blogs, we will go over abnormal motion patterns and provide exercise recommendations to correct these problems.

For more information about Golf Muscles and Injuries, follow this link:

Golf Muscles – Where Does the Problem Lie?

An efficient golf swing is a great example of power generation. The twisting motion of your body during the golf swing produces an amazing amount of torque and rotational force. Ideally, we should first see motion from the golfer’s hips, generating the power which is transferred through the torso, into the arms, and finally down the club, and into the club head (Kinematic Sequence). A smooth efficient golf swing, that transfers high levels of kinetic energy, is truly amazing to watch.


Golf Analysis – We Can HelpBack to the Top

To reiterate – your golf swing is all about proper body mechanics. A good golf swing requires full rotational capacity of nearly every joint involved and must be done – efficiently – easily – explosively – repeatedly. Many swing faults are directly attributable to poor joint mobility, resulting from soft-tissue restrictions.

At Kinetic Health we provide you with a means to enhance your Golf performance by identifying and releasing restrictions that reduce performance and cause injuries.

During this analysis we:

  • Determine which structures are affected along the Golfer’s kinetic chain. We focus on more than just the chief area of restriction.
  • Identify the antagonistic structures (opposing muscle groups) to those that have been identified as the primary structures causing the imbalance.
  • Since function and performance is based upon balance and coordination, an opposing soft-tissue structure is always affected by restrictions in the primary structure.
  • Then treat each soft-tissue dysfunction with the appropriate technique to restore full function to the affected structures.

The result is almost always an improvement in Golf performance. Using this process, we have helped hundreds of Golfers achieve their goals and prevented numerous injuries from occurring.


  • The Golf Biomechanics Manual, Whole in One Golf Conditioning. Paul Chek. 1999, A C.H.E.K Institute Publication.
  • Golf Workshop – Technique and 3D Biomechanics Workbook. Titleist Performance Institute. Acushnet Company 2006
  • Electromyographic Analysis of the Scapular Muscles During a Golf Swing, Am J Sports Med January 1995 vol. 23 no. 1 19-23
  • Feeling up to Par: Medicine from Tee to Green, Philadelphia, 1994: 9-13 McCaroll J.R., Mallon W.J., Epidemiology of Golf Injuries, In Stover C.N., McCaroll J.R., Mallon W.J.
  • Muscle activity during the golf swing, Br. J. Sports. Med. November 1, 2005 39:799-804 A McHardy, H Pollard, and P J Garbutt
  • Electromyographic Analysis of the Scapular Muscles During a Golf Swing, Am J Sports Med January 1995 vol. 23 no. 1 19-23
  • Golf Injuries and Biomechanics of the Golf Swing, University of Umeå Department of Sports Medicine Sports Medicine, Katarina Grinell, Karin Henriksson-Larsén Gothenburg, January 25, 1999
  • Stannish W.D., Loebenberg M.I., Kozey J.W., The Elbow, In Stover C.N., McCaroll J.R., Mallon W.J. Feeling up to Par: Medicine from Tee to Green, Philadelphia, 1994: 143-49
  • Golf Injuries and Biomechanics of the Golf Swing, University of Umeå, Department of Sports Medicine Sports Medicine, Katarina Grinell, Karin Henriksson-Larsén Gothenburg, January 25, 1999

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KINETICHEALTH

Kinetic Health
Soft Tissue Mgt. Systems
10–34 Edgedale Drive NW
Calgary, AB T3A 2R4, Canada
p | 403-241–3772
f | 403-241–3846
e | reception@kinetichealth.ca

ACTIVERELEASE.CA

Kinetic Health
Soft Tissue Mgt. Systems
10–34 Edgedale Drive NW
Calgary, AB T3A 2R4, Canada
p | 403-241–3772
f | 403-241–3846
e | reception@kinetichealth.ca

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