The Pros: Golfers Live Longer than Non Golfers

The clubs are out and it’s time! to visit the greens for you folks that love everything golf. The passion surrounding this game on every level is great to see. Whether you’re a seasoned player, a beginner, or a pro this advice is going to help your game. And if you like to watch golf rather than play it I suggest this still applies to you. Movement improvement is needed in everyone’s life. Golf spectating offers an opportunity to walk around the course rather than being restricted to watching the action from your seat.

I say there’s an athlete in us all at any age ready to come out swinging!

There are also some well researched mental health and wellness benefits to playing the game that include increased self worth and social benefits. Improved balance and muscular function is seen by playing regularly, and cardiovascular benefits abound especially if you don’t use the golf cart.

The health benefits and exercise are powerful motivators to play or take up golf at any age. The sport is played by 55 million people in 206 countries globally. Most see and feel golf as a stress buster but conversely anxiety has been reported by golfers as it relates to poor performance.

Before going to far into the reasons you might have a golf game above par and a sore back from playing the game you love let’s start with a proven fact:

Golfers Live Longer than Non Golfers

But there are Cons…

TPI is the world’s leading educational organization dedicated to the study of how the human body functions in relation to the golf swing. Excessive roundness of the upper back or excessive arch in the low back are posture positions identified by the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) that can negatively influence your game and your back health.

Although golf provides health and fitness benefits, the sport also appears to have certain injury risks that may significantly affect a players enjoyment of the game, and even prohibit some from playing as they age.

The statistics on golf injuries are high and it’s considered to be a moderate risk activity compared to other sports. The volume of repetitive practice, sub-optimal swing mechanics, lack of warm-up, and poor general health and movement are all factors. Addressing one or all of these with some professional help will go a long way to decreasing injury risk and improving your score.

There is a higher incidence of skin cancer with golfers. As one who has battled a lot of skin cancer personally I strongly encourage you to wear sunscreen and a hat while enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.

Head and eye injury stats are certainly less frequent but can be severe. Lightning strikes causing death and golf cart related injuries (15,000 last year from the US National Safety Council) although not technically related to golf suggest to me that some weather checks and safety instruction should be implemented. Those that carry their golf bag on a regular basis have significantly more injuries to the low back, shoulder, and ankle. The word “caddy” comes to mind.

From The Fitness Professional

In their study Golf-Related Low Back Pain: A Review of Causative Factors and Prevention Strategies, authors Linsday and Vandervoot suggest despite its popularity low back pain affects golfers of all ages and skill levels. Many body parts are involved in the swing and if it’s not executed properly the velocity, range of motion, and complexity can make your spine talk back to you.

One sided issues…a movement geek’s candy store!

Golf is one sport that requires asymmetric trunk movement.

Repetitive mechanical load applied to a body part may lead to hypertrophy of its muscles. If a movement requires asymmetric activation of bilateral muscles, this may result in differences in muscle size between the sides

Researchers (Yoka Izumoto,Toshiyuki Kurihara, Tadashi Suga,Tadao Isaka) looked at the  Bilateral differences in the trunk muscle volume of skilled golfers. The results of this study demonstrate that skilled long-term golfers develop large volumes and bilateral asymmetry of their trunk muscles. The Lateral Abdominals and Psoas Major on the non-dominant side and the Rectus Abdominis on the dominant side are required to swing the club. Many recreational golfers develop a version of this states Dr. David Olson of Edgemont Chiropractic because “their fitness level is under the capacity of their golf volume of play.” In other words, they are not fit enough to play without injuring themselves repeatedly. 

Range of motion (mobility) and strength is where I feel training can have the most influence. Your swing mechanics are one thing the golf professional is an expert on but your body mechanics are where I can make some magic.

The causes of low back pain from golf to date have been mostly focused around the back, but poor hip mobility and strength (both front and back) can play a role as well. The rotation has to come from somewhere. The hips are supposed to be mobile and the lower back relatively stable (Joint by Joint approach/ Mike Boyle’s theory) If the hips don’t move the rotation comes from the low back. Over time this equals injury.

I find it interesting that the technical terms golf professional use to describe swing flaws have a lot anatomy and posture in them. TPI’s website has a wonderful video section that describes the flaws and so of your golf coach has mentioned that you have S posture or early extension for example go to their website and check out what it is exactly!

Check out the C- Posture and S Posture videos here but you may also have heard your golf coach say that you have: Casting, Loss Of Posture, Flat shoulder Plane, Early Extension, Flying Elbow, Over The Top, Sway, Late Buckle, Forward Lunge, Scooping and the funny one Chicken Winging!

All of the common swing flaws include common physical flaws such as these:

Limited hip mobility (both internal and external rotation),

Lack of hip strength

Reduced trunk and shoulder mobility.

Poor Core Strength

Mobility and Stability

Balance

Wrist, neck and ankle mobility issues.

Breathing

Recovery, Rest, and Fuelling for Performance. (Nutrition)

So in your effort to improve your game you must improve your fitness, work on your physical flaws and address your weakest links. So here’s the deal, “Train and work out to improve your game.”

I believe if your golf workout looks really “golfish” you are doing the wrong things. Reinforcing the movement, and one sided hypertrophy as mentioned above with loaded medicine ball throws for example will not achieve the consistency and accuracy you desire.

Consistency
Consistency comes with removing or improving the physical limitations that limit your ability to improve your swing flaws.

Your physical limitations are in turn the underlying root of your swing flaws.  Ideally, we are looking for a balance in your movement patterns as well as solid competency in their execution, and often that is not what we see when completing movement assessments. Movements such as hinge, squat, push, pull, crawl, carry and brace will provide a strong training foundation from which to develop sequential kinetic chain linking. It has been reported that the core is not a power generator, as power is generated in the hips and transmitted through a stable core. This makes me want to train my hips more!

So think of training as human specific and goal related rather than golf specific. Call it what you will, the end result is something that shows in the score, game after game improving your handicap.

After two hip replacements, George has done the work and has a great swing!

From The Golf Professional

I reached out to Ben McKendrick a PGA of Canada Member & Associate Professional at Capilano Golf & Country Club.  McKendrick thinks the golfers on tour aren’t given enough credit for their physical capabilities. In his opinion they have the highest level of movement and explosive power than any other sport.

Ok I admit that the first nugget is for me:

“All golfers regardless of age and golfing ability would benefit from improved fitness & mobility.  Swinging the golf club with power and control comes from a body that moves properly.”

On Power he says:

“More power – is often the number one thing people ask for but they don’t train their body to move fast and efficiently. So to hit the ball further the club needs to travel faster so to make the club travel faster it’s down to the golfer to create that speed. Speed unfortunately won’t come from just the arms. To create additional swing speed is a combination of arms and body working in synchronization. To achieve this we need a correct turn of the hips and shoulders in backswing with the arms and clubface complementing that turn.

The downswing is then a reaction to the backswing, hopefully with the use of vertical, horizontal and rotational forces. And I say hopefully because if we haven’t created the torque and width in the backswing there won’t be high levels of stored power ready to explode at impact.”

On Controlling the Clubface:

We want a swing that keeps the club face “under control” throughout the golf swing. Most golfers I see have excessive forearm roll at the start of their swing. This will typically open the clubface and create a chain reaction of compensations throughout the entire swing, causing inconsistencies in their outcome.

All elite level ball strikers have the ability to control the clubface in a repeatable manner through impact which makes their outcome very predictable. This is something the average golfer can’t do. This is likely to be a combination of poor technique / swing mechanics and / or physical limitations.

Controlling the clubface isn’t always easy to do; this takes a conscious effort of correct wrist, arm and shoulder moves not to mention freedom in the hips and back. Any time a golfer has a limited range of motion in a certain area, they will have no other option than to make compensations to overcome their issue.

When we watch PGA tour golfers we see that there are lots of different ways to get the job done but they all have very similar motions at impact (open hips and shoulders, side bend and external rotation of their trail shoulder). Sounds easy right? If only!!!!  

Make golf a way of life and more than a sport and you’re sure to live long and happy!

Inform, Instruct, Inspire @ it’s time! Fitness Results

Written by: Sheila Hamilton Copyright June 2019

 

References:

Sheila Hamilton’s TPI Expert Profile

Golf Blog 2017

Golf Blog 2016

https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/bjsports/50/11/647.full.pdf

The relationships between golf and health: a scoping review

https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/bjsports/51/1/12.full.pdf

How healthy is your golf game? Calgary Herald Jill Barker May 27, 2019

Ben McKendrick – PGA of Canada Member & Associate Professional at Capilano Golf & Country Club

Contact Info: benm@capilanogolf.com 604 925 4653

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4335481/

Golf Related Low Back Pain:A Review of Causative Factors and Prevention Strategies

http://www.mytpi.com/articles/fitness/treating_motor_pattern_dysfunction_are_your_corrective_exercises_correcting

Bilateral differences in the trunk muscle volume of skilled golfers Yoka Izumoto1 , Toshiyuki KuriharaID2 *, Tadashi Suga3 , Tadao Isaka3

Thanks to Dr. David Olson of Edgemont Chiropractic Clinic for digging up some great research for me on golf.  I call you Dr. Awesome for a reason!

Improve Your Game from TPI

Image : Copyright: <a href=”https://www.123rf.com/profile_Krisdog”>Krisdog / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

(3) Adapted for Cann et al Asian Journal of Sports Medicine 2014;5 (4):e24289