Last time I discussed a bit about swing mechanics, this month we’ll get into a few points to help maintain a healthy golf lifestyle.
If you play this game long enough, as with any other sport, eventually you will run the risk of injury. While injuries sustained by touring professionals tend to be due to repetitive strain, those of club professionals and amateur (weekend) golfers tend to be fatigue-related injuries (muscle/ligamentous strain/sprain) due to lack of conditioning. The good news is this can be avoided by being proactive through activities such as stretching and specific exercises that strengthen the low back and develop a stronger sense of proprioception.
A large part of maintaining our balance is through our inner ear and our eyes, but what I term, “reactive balance,” is achieved through the proprioceptors in the intrinsic muscles of our low back. These receptors act to maintain our stability and subconsciously activate when we slip. Developing them, essentially by training our balance, makes them more attuned to stabilize the individual vertebrae and reduce the injury during a fall or lifting/ twisting awkwardly (or a golf swing!). Perhaps the greatest invention to come along for low back strengthening and rehab has been the Swiss ball, basically a big rubber ball.
The Swiss ball is a highly versatile tool that can be used in numerous different exercises to effectively activate the lumbar stabilizing muscles and train the proprioceptors. Even sitting on one while at the computer or watching TV provides benefits, as one has to balance on it just to be able to sit stationary. I’ve had patients tell me they were sore the next day after being at their computer for 3-4 hours. They didn’t realize the workout they were getting. If you plan to purchase a ball, sizing is important. The ball for you is one in which your hips and knees are at 90 degrees when sitting on it. They generally come with a sheet of starter exercises, or one can obtain more information from someone with knowledge of their use or one of the many books available as well as YouTube, which is a great resource. Check out this video to see some of what Rory McIlroy does:
Dr. Mark Strudwick is a third-generation chiropractor in Victoria, B.C.