The Golfer's Body #3 - Releasing Your Swing
Updated: Jun 22
In Part 1 of "The Golfer's Body " we discussed how the quality of your musculoskeletal structures plays a critical role in the efficiency of your golf swing. We also discussed a treatment framework for improving performance and preventing injuries.
In Part-2 of "The Golfer's Body" we focused on how EMG research has shown us the relationship between each phase of the golf swing and specific anatomical structures. This is critical information for practitioners to be aware of in helping patients address a dysfunction related to a specific Phase of their golf swing.
In Part 3 of "The Golfer's Body" we will go over the specific strategies we use to address inefficiencies in your golf swing. We give you examples of manual therapy recommendations to remove restrictions, and provide you with specific exercises (for mobility and strengthening) to improve your game.
REMOVE THE RESTRICTION - REMOVE THE FRUSTRATION
Golf can be a very frustrating game!
Golfers pay thousand of dollars on new equipment, coaching, and an array of novel ideas about how to achieve the perfect golf swing - yet the results often fall short of expectations.
The good new is you can help change all of that, by improving your body's capacity to store and release energy (tissue quality).
Surprisingly, by implementing a good strategy to improve the quality of the your body's musculoskeletal structures can help remove a great deal of frustration you experience when playing golf.
As a practitioner, your first step in achieving this goal is to gather as much information as you can about that golfer. Thus, your first step in addressing any musculoskeletal condition should always be a complete physical examination.
THE PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT
Our patients may come to us with the intention of improving their golf swing, but to help them, we need to know if their problem is mechanical in nature or are they dealing with some other underlying problem. For example, as practitioners, we need to ensure that a decrease in hip rotation is not due to an osteoarthritic hip, or that their low back pain is not caused by a spinal disc on the verge of rupturing.
The only way a practitioner can figure this out is by completing a comprehensive physical examination.
KEY POINT: Obtaining comprehensive assessment is definitely one of the great benefits of working with an experienced primary care practitioner, especially when attempting to improve your sports performance. After all, research studies have shown that injury rates in golfers are already high, so it is important NOT to ignore unaddressed underlying injuries.
ADDRESSING PRIMARY STRUCTURES
The amount of research that has gone into the game of golf is incredible. Fortunately, this research has given us some great information on the location of the primary structures activated in a golf swing as demonstrated by EMG research . (1)
When we combine this information with our physical examination findings, almost immediately we can help you on the road to a more efficient, powerful and accurate swing.
This diagram below illustrates the primary muscles activated during a golf swing (right hand golfer). You will notice that certain structures are only activated on one side of the body, while others are on both sides (bilateral activation B/L). You will also notice that certain structures are activated more often (during a golf swing) than other structures. For example: the Serratus Anterior muscle is activated three time on the right side (but not on the left side), versus the Rhomboid muscle which is only activated one time, and only on the left side.
Muscle imbalances in your golf swing is key factor that practitioners must consider when address restrictions in their golfing patients bodies.
RELEASING THE RESTRICTIONS - MOTION SPECIFIC RELEASE
Once a golfer's body has been analyzed for restrictions and imbalances its time to start removing them. One the best ways we have found to remove those restrictions is through a treatment system called Motion Specific Release (MSR). MSR provides hundreds of hands-on procedures that are based on integrating the power of numerous and diverse interdisciplinary treatment perspectives. MSR is a treatment system build on diversity it is not a technique.
Below are videos demonstrating MSR procedures that we use often use at Kinetic Health to release myofascial restrictions in golfers. The videos we have chosen represent examples of three primary structures activated in a golf swing. These three examples are only a small section of the protocols we would use in a treatment session. For every structure mention in the previous diagram we have developed a technique to release restrictions.
Gluteus Maximus Release: In this video Dr. Abelson demonstrates how to use Motion Specific Release (MSR) to release restrictions in the Gluteus Maximus muscle. Strong, flexible, engaged gluteal muscles are critical to optimum performance and injury prevention. Click the video to play!
Thoracolumbar fascia (TLF) Release: The TLF plays a critical role in both stabilization of the spine and in load transfer from the core (essential for golf). In this video Dr. Brian Abelson demonstrates an effective way of releasing the TFL and the Erector Spinae muscles.
6 ‐ Point MSR Rotator Cuff Protocol: The rotator cuff is made up of four major muscles and their associated tendons: supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and the subscapularis. This group of muscles is also referred to as the SITS muscles (the first letter of their names). The SITS muscles are involved in almost every type of shoulder movement. It is extremely important to have strong, flexible, and balanced SITS muscles in order to maintain optimal shoulder function. (Video to be released to the general public August 5/2020)
Pectoralis Muscle: Releasing the Pectoralis Muscles is critical for most golfers. We live in an anterior posture society, unfortunately working for long hours on a computer, texting, driving and other actions cause restriction in this muscle. Anterior posture is also described as a C-posture. The C-posture is often described as an excessive roundness in the upper back, this posture can be the cause of major problems in your golf swing.
JOINTS ARE IMPORTANT!
Joint function is a key factor in golf performance. Our capacity to produce an unlimited variety of movements requires good joint integrity. We cannot expect to get optimal results without addressing joint restrictions.
As practitioners, it is important for us to understand the complex interrelationships between the structure and function of multiple joints.
No joint ever works in isolation. For example, the stability of the shoulder is often affected by the joints of the cervical and thoracic spine, and even by hips and lower extremity joints. An injury in one joint often creates compensations in both adjacent and distant joints.
By considering joint function to be part of a musculoskeletal kinetic chain, you will find that your success rate with golfer's improves exponentially.
Both joint manipulation and joint mobilization are effective means of improving joint function.
Below are some examples of how we would mobilize the Shoulder Girdle, hip and knee. Note these videos are for demonstration purposes only. MSR procedures should only be performed by a qualified practitioner.
Mobilizing the Hip Joint - Motion Specific Release™: Hip mobility is a key aspect of your bodies Kinetic Chain. Because no joint operates in isolation lack of hip mobility will affect your: knees, ankles, low back, and even your upper extremity. The hip joint is a ball-and-socket synovial joint designed to allow for multiaxial motion while transferring load between the upper and lower extremities. (This video will be public on March 4/2021)
EXERCISE - A CRITICAL COMPONENT
The type of exercises that we recommend will vary greatly depending on the specific needs of each patient. In general terms we usually start with flexibility and mobility exercises. Then we progress into strength training, slowly increasing the demands required by the body. Finally we prescribe a series of functional exercises that requiring more balance, and recruitment of the nervous system. These exercises are critical to move forward with performance improvements and injury prevention.
Check out the two YouTube playlist below. These are some of the common exercises that we prescribe to our golfing patients.
15 Flexibility & Mobility Exercises: Good flexibility and mobility is critical in a golf swing. If you have poor mobility, you will be limited in the type and degree of movement your body can make in your swing. Hence you will be limited in both power production and accuracy. Click the link to go to our YouTube Golf Flexibility & Mobility playlist.
27 Strengthening Exercises: Strength training will help prepare a golfer for the physical stresses placed on their body. It will also reduce the risk of injury and increase force production. Click the link to go to our YouTube Golf strengthening playlist.
Golf is an amazing sport! With the right strategy most golfer's can substantially improve their game while at the same time prevent injuries that could easily cut their golfing longevity short.
Golf is NOT a low impact sport, golfers need to take care of their bodies. Golfers receive more injuries annually than even rugby players (3,4,5,6).
Over 40% of amateur golfers are injured every year,
Up to 90% of professional golfers experience injuries annually.
The primary areas of injury are low back, elbow, shoulder, and wrist in that order.
The same restrictions that cause injury also reduce your golf performance. That is why every golfer who want to improve their performance and prevent injuries should always have a skilled musculoskeletal (MSK) practitioner as part of their team of professionals. By using conservative therapy and exercise you can improve your performance, and avoid those injuries that keep you off the course.
Hope to see you in the clinic (not just for injuries), in one of our MSR courses, or on the green's.
Dr. Brian Abelson DC
REFERENCES - PART 3
A McHardy, H Pollard Muscle activity during the golf swing British Journal of Sports Medicine Volume 39, Issue 11 2005;39:799–804
A D Murray, L Daines, D Archibald, R A Hawkes, C Schiphorst, P Kelly, L Grant, N Mutrie, The relationships between golf and health: a scoping review, British Journal of Sports Medicine, Volume 61, Issue 1
A Survey of Golf Injuries in amateur golfers. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 1992; 26(1), p. 63-65.
Gluck GS, Bendo JA, Spivak JM. The lumbar spine and low back pain in golf: a literature review of swing biomechanics and injury prevention. Spine J. 2008; 8:778-88.
Gosheger G, Liem D, Ludwig K, Greshake O, Winkelmann W. Injuries and overuse syndromes in golf. Am. J. Sports Med. 2003; 31(3):438-43.
Wadsworth LT. When golf hurts: Musculoskeletal problems common to golfers. Curr. Sports Med. Reports. 2007; 6:362-5.
Findley T, and Schleip R. (2009). Introduction. In: Huijing PA, Hollander P, Findley TW, and Schleip R, eds. Fascia research II. Basic science and implications for conventional and complementary health care. München: Urban and Fischer.
Hurwitz, Randhawa, The Global Spine Care Initiative: World Spine Care executive summary on reducing spine-related disability in low- and middle-income communities. Eur Spine J. 2018 Sep;27(Suppl 6):776-785. doi: 10.1007/s00586-018-5722-x. Epub 2018 Aug 27.
DR. BRIAN ABELSON DC.
Dr. Abelson believes in running an Evidence Based Practice (EBP). EBP's strive to adhere to the best research evidence available, while combining their clinical expertise with the specific values of each patient.
Dr. Abelson is the developer of Motion Specific Release (MSR) Treatment Systems. His clinical practice in is located in Calgary, Alberta (Kinetic Health). He has recently authored his 10th publications which will be available later this year.
Dr. Abelson is the owner of Kinetic Health, a partner in BKAT Motion Specific Release, and a partner in Rowan Tree Books.
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