Golf Injuries



The worldwide love affair with the game of golf is loved by all ages.  For some it is loved for its physical demands, others the challenge of self-improvement, still others long for the social interaction.  Technically golf is about mental focus, balance, weight distribution and endurance.  The keys to a good game of golf are consistency and accuracy, which come through good training and practice.  Like any machine, you can break down if your body is cared for properly.  What does that mean really?  Let’s look at the obvious first, bad nutrition means you are not providing the building blocks your body and mind need to function and rebuild what you are breaking down.

Golf is a unilateral sport which means everything is moving the same way every time you perform a swing.  This can lead to a breakdown of muscles and ligaments in the joints which is the cause for instability.  Instability leads to failure in your performance.  Golfers and athletes from many other sports use chiropractic care to help improve their performance. Chiropractic adjustments are for more than just back pain. They help your nervous system, maximize joint mechanics and improve your overall health.

As a golfer you need a strong foundation which begins with solid golf swing.  Your power center of the golf swing is in the pelvis. Your lower body and pelvis create torque during the swing, while your upper body acts as whip. Lack of a strong foundation on the bottom half and flexibility on the top, your swing will suffer.

If one of the posterior joints of your pelvis has micro-tears or weakness in the ligaments, the pelvis cannot bear weight on that side. It is comparable to having a sprained ankle, but in the pelvis. This condition could be painless, but it may include pain in that joint, the lower back or hips.  Also, if the posterior pelvic joints are weak, a golfer can’t complete their backswing, and can’t produce sufficient torque in their body to generate the power or club head speed they desire. Typically the ball will either fade or slice and the distance of the shot will be far less than if they have a healthy back. If the front side of the pelvis is unstable, this will also create a severe loss of power.  Chiropractors are the experts in realigning the pelvis.  With chiropractic care, core stability training and giving the ligaments the nutrients they need and a chance to heal, the body mechanics can be restored and that’s all, right?  Not exactly.  To become what a golfer really wants to be they will need flexibility in the torso and shoulders to create the necessary whip-like action.

Dr. Jeff Blanchard, a chiropractor and golf professional says, “There are three fundamental causes of golf injuries: poor posture, lack of flexibility and poor swing mechanics. The root cause of poor mechanics is often a result of a physical restriction or mechanical dysfunction, which may be alleviated through chiropractic procedures. Lack of flexibility can also be addressed by treatment and a prescribed stretching program specifically designed around each patient’s restrictions. Obviously, chiropractic care is ideally suited to deal with poor posture. Very few golfers attempt any conditioning at all. Is it any wonder there are so many golf related injuries? The golf swing requires the spine to rotate, bend laterally and extend. This requires flexibility that is golf-specific.”

Dr. Blanchard goes on to talk about the secondary curves which are a normal part of our spines.  He says that the secondary curves relate to our ability to rotate for a powerful golf swing.  “We have been taught that the position of the structure dictates its function. Good golf posture requires the secondary curves in the cervical and lumbar spine to be in lordosis. The secondary spinal curves provide mechanical leverage for strength and facilitate the patient’s ability to rotate. Poor golf posture with a collapse of the secondary curves restricts spinal rotation. This will cause golfers to overswing, leading to soft tissue injuries. Remember, the secondary curves are levers that provide mechanical advantage and strength for movement of the spinal column. To hit the ball a great distance, a golfer must to be able to rotate into and maintain a wide arc through the swing. Due to the torsional stresses placed on the back when playing golf, these athletes are particularly at risk for injury to the muscles, discs, ligaments and tendons in this area.”

Dr. Heath Gallentine, a chiropractor in Lexington, KY stated, “There are three components to back health, that when combined correctly, are very instrumental in preventing these types of injuries. These components are: flexibility, strength and coordination. Golf involves almost all the joints in the body – pelvis, mid and lower back, and the neck – the spine. And in the event that one part of that “breaks” or weakens, the other parts need to make up for the broken part, just like the hinges of a door. If that part has been left unfixed and unable to do its job, the others will then have to work harder, and eventually wear faster than expected. If the mid-back, for instance, weakens and is left without being managed or improved, then pain and degeneration occurs, making it difficult to perform the usual and normal movements necessary for the sport.”

As you can imagine, there is no cookie cutter correction for every golfer.  Each of us is very individual and so is the care that is needed.  You see with approximately 30 million golfers in the United States, each golfer is unique.  Studies show that more than 80 percent of these players experience back pain or injury at some point while actively playing golf. Because the golf swing is an unnatural movement for the lower back 4 out of every 5 golfers experience back pain which is sometimes known as “golf back.” Swinging a driver or three iron at speeds of up to 100 mph while turning, twisting and pulling can be extremely traumatic to the entire torso, let alone just the lower back.

The golf swing isn’t the only aspect of playing the sport that causes golf back pain. There is a lot of walking in golf, even if you take a cart. You have to walk up hills, down hills, and all over the uneven surfaces of the average course. In addition, at other times you have to swing and torque your body while positioning yourself on unstable surfaces like hills, tree roots, or sand. Perhaps the worst part of golf for your back is the simple act of standing. There is a lot of standing around in golf, and just like in everyday life when someone stands they usually shift weight to one side of their body. This tends to tighten muscles on one side while relaxing muscles on the other side. Next, the player moves to the tee box and soon starts swinging away again, causing trauma to both sides. Once he finally makes his way to the green he is then bent over lining up and standing awkwardly over the ball while trying to sink a putt. All of these movements put tremendous stress on the lower back resulting in golf back pain.

As a player experiences back pain during a round of golf, their scores suffer and enjoyment is taken away from the game. Back, neck, shoulder and elbow pain will sabotage any golf swing and ruin the golf experience. It shouldn’t be that way and it doesn’t have to. It has been found that regular chiropractic care can help alleviate golf back pain and help restore your game to where it should be.

As a player experiences back pain during a round of golf, their scores suffer and enjoyment is taken away from the game. Back, neck, shoulder and elbow pain will sabotage any golf swing and ruin the golf experience. It shouldn’t be that way and it doesn’t have to. It has been found that regular chiropractic care can help alleviate golf back pain and help restore your game to where it should be.

Let me know if you are happy with the status quo or are you ready to make the decision to change how you feel and move.  Are you now ready to take your game to the next level?