Chiropractic and Golf — A Winning Combination
As many of us know, golf is a challenging and often frustrating sport. Many amateur golfers feel the psychological component of golf is their greatest challenge and undervalue the biomechanics and conditioning that are required to play the game consistently well. This is a mistake that eventually leads to poor play or most often, injury. An extreme amount of compressive force – up to 10 times a person’s body weight – is exerted on the spine during the golf swing. Every joint involved in the swing is taken through its maximum range. If the body is not properly prepared to handle these forces, injury will eventually result.
“Formal golf instruction has been available to the general public for over 100 years, yet still most golfers, when they play strictly by the rules of golf, can’t break 100,” says Jeff Blanchard, DC. “PGA instructors will confess that a student’s lack of fitness and conditioning is the primary barrier to improved performance.”
Dr. Blanchard indicates elbow pain is a common complaint among amateurs due to the lack of golf-specific flexibility. “Most amateurs bend their elbow during the backswing, then hyperextend the elbow during the downswing,” he states. “For tour pros, wrist injuries are prevalent, because on a professional level, players have to hit the ball where it lies, often out of deep, thick rough.”
Another common complaint is back pain, the result of an inefficient golf swing that creates too much stress on the back. Four out of five golfers experience back pain as a result of repetitive swinging. Regular chiropractic care helps alleviate mechanical back pain and greatly improves an athlete’s game. Neck, shoulder, elbow and hip pain are also frequent complaints among golfers of all ages. Chiropractic care is an effective non-pharmacologic solution for golfers who seek to rid themselves of pain and have a successful and enjoyable game. From a purely vitalistic standpoint, regular chiropractic care, both in season and during the off-season, will help prepare the body for the stresses that the typical golfer will undergo during a round of golf.
It Starts With the Swing
At age 45, Dr. Blanchard left private practice for 10 years to play professional golf. In his second year, a serratus anterior injury sidelined him for five months. “When I asked the PGA instructors what was happening in my golf swing to cause this injury, they had no idea what serratus anterior was,” he says. “When I asked the same question to the health care providers who were helping me during my recovery, they had no knowledge of golf-swing biomechanics.”
Chiropractors are trained to evaluate each area of the spine (and extremities) for flexibility and/or strength. At Greenwood Health Center, if a patient fails in any particular area, correction protocols are taught and patients are given strengthening and stabilizing exercises to do at home, in conjunction with in-office treatment. The golf swing is a unilateral movement that creates imbalances in the body, causing misalignments. These misalignments cause decentralization of joints, resulting in undue stress and wear and tear on the joints.
The main goal of chiropractic care is to be sure clients are as symmetrical as possible in all planes of motion. This helps them get into positions for the golf swing that are efficient and repeatable. The game of golf is hard enough — why have your body working against you?
Getting in Shape
Market research shows that most golfers believe better equipment will help them play better golf. However, statistical data, based on handicap averages over the past 30 years, prove otherwise.
The No. 1 barrier to improved performance on the golf course is the physical fitness and conditioning of the person swinging the club. If you can improve your golf-specific flexibility and golf-specific stability, you can become a more powerful and more consistent golfer.
If players are serious about golf, they must also get serious about conditioning. Intermediate-and advanced-level golfers should follow fitness and conditioning protocols that are designed to help the golfer improve their performance. Often times, workout programs vary from bodyweight stability exercises to simple isolation strength exercises using machines or more advanced functional-strength movements, such as Romanian deadlifts, Turkish get-ups, single-leg dead lifts or kettle-bell work. For the average weekend warrior, a simple stretching routine throughout the week will be efficient enough to help the golfer through the round. Taking it a step further, for the body to heal, repair and recover, nutritional supplementation and hydration are critical.
JORDAN SPIETH Attributes Masters Win to Chiropractic
In a recent article (www.allamericanhealthcare.net/masters-winner-jordan-spieth-benefits-fromchiropractic), pro golfer Jordan Spieth calls golf a team sport – referring to the contributions made by his caddie, coach, trainer and manager and sports chiropractor Dr. Troy Van Biezen. Spieth has received chiropractic care since he was 14 to prevent injuries and optimize overall health and athletic performance. “Dr. Van Biezen is an important member of my team, and thanks to his care, my all-time dream of winning the Masters Tournament has become a reality,” Spieth says.
Dr. Van Biezen travels full time with Spieth, providing chiropractic care once or twice daily. “An individualized chiropractic care plan, including prevention and recovery-focused techniques, is essential for maintaining good health and gives Jordan a competitive edge,” notes Dr. Van Biezen.
ZACH JOHNSON Grew Up With Chiropractic
Zach Johnson, like most PGA Tour Professionals is no stranger to chiropractic care. Throughout his childhood and teenage years he received chiropractic care from his father, ACA member David Johnson, DC. Like Spieth, Zach Johnson has Dr. Van Biezen on tour with him as the professional sports DC.
“I adjusted Zach throughout his formative years, but less now that he works with Troy when he is on tour,” says Dr. Johnson. “I don’t need to offer much advice because his team includes a chiropractor, strength trainer, PGA professional golf coach and sports psychologist. I occasionally adjust him when he comes home or if we are visiting him.”
Watching the high level of training and care his son receives is a bit of an eye-opener for Dr. Johnson. “I’ve always known that chiropractic care improves function and balance and reduces pain associated with the grind of repetitive movement and high-speed movement in the golf swing,” says Dr. Johnson. “However, since Zach has been on the tour, I have seen firsthand how much professional golfers rely on chiropractic care. Zach also depends on nutritional and exercise support for maintaining his high level of performance and function.”