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How to Improve your Golf Game with Urban Wellness Clinic

Ahh, golf. The sport I made fun of the most growing up. Adults chasing a tiny ball after hitting it with a thin metal stick and somehow not getting frustrated by it. What is fun about that?

Well, fast forward a few years and now I’m the one picking up that thin metal stick and wondering where the white ball went. Not quite sure where my sudden interest came into play, but I’ll just chalk it up to being an adult and finding an excuse to spend time in nature.

Although I am very much new to golf, I have a newfound respect and understanding for those who have been playing for years. It truly can take a toll on your body. The rotational component into the shoulders and arms, the stability needed at your cervical spine, and strength needed into the core to maintain the perfect swing. That’s not even all of it, but it sure is a lot to think about.

What Makes a Great Golf Swing?

Core Stability

No matter what sport or work out you aim for, core stability is vital. Mobility without stability will only lead to poor compensation patterns in the body. When the core isn’t strong, the rest of the body must make up for it, and let’s face it, no one likes to work overtime. Especially work that they aren’t meant to do in the first place.

Our upper and lower limbs provide incredible ranges of motion. The shoulder and hip joints are ball and socket joints that allow us the ability to move in all ranges of motion. None of these movements will be beneficial or done correctly if we are not strong in the center of our body. But, keep in mind, laying on your back and doing 100 sit-ups before a round will not work. You must work the right muscles within your core to gain the most stability. Quality over quantity, folks!

Our core is made up of multiple muscles. The rectus abdominus, which sits most superficially and is known as the “six-pack” muscle, the transverse abdominus, which is our deep core muscle, and the obliques. The oblique muscles consist of the External Abdominal Oblique and the Internal Abdominal Oblique. (anatomy definitions and actions.)

Woman practicing her golf swing

Cervical Stability

If you are using your neck to breath, hold your head up and rotate then that’s a little too much here. Breathing into your belly and allowing the core to do its job leaves room for the muscles into the neck and shoulders to help with your posture. During the backswing, your head should remain focused on the ball. Disassociating your cervical spine from your thoracic spine to some degree, which will not happen if joints are stiff and if your mid-back is being used for movements in the neck.

Foot Stability

We must utilize all parts of our foot in order to be grounded and use the right parts of our feet during certain movements. For example, when we push off our back foot while walking, we should do so by moving through our big toe. We should be thanking our big toe for the stability it creates as we walk and guess what, it has a major connection to the biggest muscle in our body: the gluteus maximus.

Pushing off of our big toe creates activation up the kinetic chain and allows us to activate our glutes, which in turn, creates the power for us to propel forward while walking. When this connection is not being made, we use other muscles to propel forward. Depending on how your body is compensating, this can lead to back pain, shin splints, foot pain, and many other conditions.

When playing golf, similar rules apply! A wide-based stance in preparation for your swing should be done with all parts of your foot touching the ground. When following through with the swing to the left, for example, the right heel comes off the ground with your weight shift. Flexing through the toes and allowing for full body weight to be applied on the stable foot allows for ideal follow through with the swing of the club.

These are just some larger movements patterns that we have seen. A session at Urban Wellness Clinic will dig much deeper and take your specific movement patterns to drive the right treatment plan.man praciticing his golf swing

A Golf Case Study

A dear patient of ours came into the office feeling pain while playing golf. He was experiencing a tightness at the top of his right hip. In addition, his gait revealed a higher shoulder on the left, forward rounded shoulder on the right, and lateral flexion (or side bend) into his right side. He was also lacking mobility in the joints of his mid-back which resulted in very little natural rotation. On top of that, he was not pushing off from his big toe, as seen during his gait analysis.

If we take this case, zoom in and apply Neurokinetic Therapy (NKT) testing, we can find out what compensations are taking place and hindering his golf game.

During testing, I found a weak transverse abdominus muscle, weak External Abdominal Oblique on the right side and a weak Internal Abdominal Oblique on the Left side which was leading to the flexion on the right side.

His pectoralis major and minor were tight and overworked on the right, which was leading to the forward shoulder positioning.

His gluteus maximus muscle on the right was being overshadowed by a low back muscle, the quadratus lumborum, which was leading to the low back strain.

I utilized Active Release Technique (ART) to his pectoralis muscles on the right and adjusted the thoracic spine. Specific Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) techniques were used to activate and strengthen the deep core muscles and stabilize the right shoulder. Strength training was also incorporated to target the gluteus maximus on the right with exercises like the single-leg glute bridge, which can help activate the glutes and obliques (if done correctly).

Other rehab movements utilized were: beast to bear planks, thoracic spine rotational mobility drills and shoulder stability strength exercises which also helped the patient retrain proper posture. Hinging patterns at the hips were also integrated throughout this entire treatment plan so that he would not compensate by hunching over from his low back.

How to Improve Your Golf Swing

DNS

Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization was a very large component of the treatment plan above, but also a great way for any golfer to prepare for 18 holes. DNS can be used as a dynamic warm-up so that your body starts to engage the right muscles before you apply them in specific movements and planes.

Neurokinetic Therapy (NKT)

Finding “your” compensation pattern is important. NKT not only helps us specify your treatment, but it also helps you become more aware of your body during certain activities. This can be golf, basketball, weight lifting or just sitting at your desk. Your practitioner will help you understand these patterns and bring that awareness to the forefront of your game.

Functional Training

Strength training will never go out of style! Releasing muscles and getting adjusted does feel great, but strengthening those joints and strengthening the right muscles is even better. As a Chiropractor trained in joint manipulation, I know that simply adjusting you will not get the job done. Taking it a step further with strength training will enhance your performance in sports and activities of daily living. What rehab outside of this sport is right for you? We can help you find those answers.

So, whether you are an avid golfer, a beginner like myself or find joy in another sport, know that we have the tools and passion to help you be better. I now know how difficult it is to stay disciplined and focused when learning the art of golf, but I also see how fun it is and why you enjoy it so much. Give us a call for an assessment at 212-355-0445 or email us at hello@urbanwellnessclinic.com and let’s get better at golf together!

Yours in health,

Dr. Mallik, D.C.