I had the opportunity to play golf this morning with 3 other colleagues of mine. All of us being chiropractors and graduating from the same school. We made it interesting by playing a scramble with the losing team picking up the green fees. As we were playing the front 9 it became pretty obvious which one of us actually warmed up properly and which of us did not. Even doctors need a reminder from time to time. I thought that I would follow up my last blog on Chiropractic and golf with a blog about our experience on the course and some of the things that us Chiropractors think about while we are on the course. Just a few things that we discussed were hand eye coordination, backswing & hip hinge.
Hand Eye Coordination
It’s my belief that hand eye coordination really begins with visualization of the shot even before you address the ball. Without knowing in your minds eye what it is that you want to do with the ball, you cannot execute the proper swing to result in your ideal shot. Once you know what you want to do with your swing it becomes easier to focus on where and how you want to strike the ball. All that is left is the execution of that golf swing. Hand eye coordination is gold is a little different than baseball; the ball is not moving and the idea is to strike the ball in a specific spot with the club face open, closed or neutral at contact to deliver the flight path that you want. To do that takes hand eye coordination. One of the keys to hand eye coordination is practice and consistent repetition, another key to hand eye coordination is how well the nerve system is functioning.
Keep in mind that the brain is controlling and coordinating every cell, tissue and organs in the body. It also uses the nerve system as the roadways for communication between the brain and body. When golfing, the misfiring or nerves will cause muscles to engage in an uncoordinated manner. If you understand the game of golf and how small changes in a swing can make the world of a difference in where the ball ends up, it’s easy to see how hand eye coordination plays a significant role in a golfers score. When nerves misfiring due to a nerve injury it will result in an uncoordinated swing and poor hand eye coordination.
The backswing also plays a big role in a golf swing. The goal is to bring the club backwards and above the head in an circular motion creating a torque throughout the spine as you reach the top of the backswing. One easy tip that golfers should take advantage of is stretching before a golf round. It takes about 10-15 minutes to warm up the muscles that will play a major role and to get the body used to the rotational motion throughout the spine to prevent injuries. Unfortunately, it is common for golfers to experience physical limitations that actually prevent them from executing this motion when they need to most. A common cause it this type of issue is a structural shift of the spine that causes the joint to lock up. When this happens, not only is the range of motion decreased but the joint itself will injure the nerve that it normally protects. In addition to preventing a golfer to bring the golf club as far backwards as possible due to a structural limitation, an injured nerve can also cause pain limiting a golfer. It is very common for golfers to experience these structural shifts in the lower back leading to lower back pain and even symptoms like sciatica.
The Hip Hinge
The last part of the golf swing that I wanted to touch on is the hip hinge. As a golfer begins the downswing, they hinge their hips allowing their bellybutton to point in the direction that he or she wants to hit the ball. The hip hinge also helps the follow through and is used to get more force through the golf ball. Occasionally a golfer may experience a difficult time getting their hips to hinge and their bellybutton to point to where they want the golf ball to land. If someone is struggling with this it can also be due to a similar physical limitation that would prevent a golfer from executing their ideal backswing. If there is a structural shift in the pelvis a golfer will also have a limited range of motion preventing them from being able to hip hinge properly. In cases where a structural shift in the pelvis exists it can also cause pain except it is usually localized to the hips but may also cause a groin pain or pain traveling down the legs but not usually not below the knee although there are always extreme cases.
Do you know someone who has been struggling with their golf game? Have they been spending time and money with different golf coaches and new equipment and still aren’t seeing the results that they want. If so, their issue may be due to a physical limitation like a structural shift of the spine that is directly affecting their golf game.