Assessing your game...and physical health
Okay, so you're serious about golf. Have you been consistently working on your game but feeling you are stuck? There is a lot to consider when looking at ways to improve your game. You may understand the mechanics of the game, but may not be aware that the mechanics of the body are important too! The challenge is to bring the mechanics of golf and the mechanics of the body together.
Of all the problems that seem to trouble the golfer, one of the most common is low back pain. Low back pain may be caused by restricted or excessive motion at other parts of the body. In most cases a thorough evaluation by a physical therapist skilled at looking at your body and how it functions as a whole, can help. The goal of the therapist is to help you understand what you can do to prevent and control the problem so that you can continue to play golf. It's about getting in shape to play so that you can improve your body in order to play better.
There are self-tests that can help you assess whether your body could be limiting your game. First, you need to know how your body affects your game. These are things to consider:
- Addressing the ball requires strength and flexibility in your ankles, strength in your hip and knee extensors, and a neutral spine position.
- The back swing requires strength and flexibility in your ankles for stability and weight shift, strength in the hip and thigh muscles to help support you in the bent knee position, flexibility at the hips to allow rotation, strength in your abdominal muscles to provide support for your trunk, strength in your neck muscles to allow you to address the ball, and flexibility and strength at your shoulders to allow you to reach the top of your swing. Whew!
- Follow through requires strength and flexibility in your ankles, extension flexibility (allows you to straighten your hips), and flexibility in hip rotation--inward rotation of the left hip joint and outward rotation of the right hip joint (for right handers), flexibility of your spine to allow backward bending, rotation and side-bending, strength in your back and abdominal muscles to maintain stability at your trunk and flexibility at your neck and shoulders.
This information may sound daunting--however a physical therapist can help you get on the right track by assessing your flexibility and strength. Then choosing the correct exercise for your body based upon your fitness level can be more accurate. And remember, more is not better. Understanding how one area of the body affects another and improving the area of limitation can help improve your game! Get going and get golfing!