Improving Your Golf Game With Chiropractic Care
There’s a reason Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer have all relied on chiropractic care throughout their careers, and it’s not just for relief from their aches and pains. It’s the same reason chiropractors have been part of the official PGA Sports Medicine Team for decades. Even if you’re not in pain, adjustments can improve your posture, increase flexibility, allow for full range of motion and decrease the risk of injury. Now research published by the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine has confirmed what most pro golfers already know: regular chiropractic care can indeed improve your golf swing and, as a result, lead to improved overall performance of your play.
“I’ve been going to a chiropractor for as long as I can remember. It is as important to my training as the practice of my swing.”
-Tiger Woods, Pro Golfer
The study, performed by sports medicine physicians in São Paulo, Brazil, examined 43 golfers who were all of similar ages and golf handicaps. The participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The control group was instructed to perform a daily regimen of specific stretches and warm-ups, whereas the experimental group received chiropractic adjustments in addition to the stretches and warm-ups.
Prior to treatment, the participants were asked to perform three full swing maneuvers, and measurements were made of the average distance they were able to drive the ball. The participants were tested again following their stretching or stretching/adjustment. This entire process was repeated over a period of four weeks.
Results of the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine Study
After four weeks the results were clear: Among those in the group that were only instructed in stretching and warm-ups there was no improvement in the “full swing performance” (defined in the study as the average distance the golfers were able to drive the ball). But among the golfers who stretched, warmed up and received chiropractic adjustments, there was a statistically significant improvement in their “full swing performance.”
The physicians performing the study concluded that a treatment plan tailored to the individual that includes chiropractic adjustments in conjunction with specific exercises and stretches can make a significant difference in your overall performance and enjoyment of the game.
But chiropractic care doesn’t just help golfers play better, it helps them avoid being forced to take time off due to injuries as well!
Preventing Golf Injuries With Chiropractic Care
As a Milwaukee sports chiropractor, I know all too well that a significant percentage of the millions of people who enjoy golf suffer from chronic pain — mostly back pain. In fact, low back pain makes up 56% of golf-related complaints. It’s easy to understand why back injuries are common in golfers. Most golfers are weekend hackers; they haven’t had years of professional training and conditioning like Annika Sorenstam or Tiger Woods, and often the muscles that support their spine (specifically their core/paraspinal musculature) are weak and underdeveloped.
“I do believe chiropractic has really benefited my game. I realize how your body can get out of balance, and chiropractic care helps.”
-Fred Funk, Pro Golfer
Golf is a game of repetitive motions. Swinging a golf club requires a repetitive, unilateral torquing of the spine that’s repeated a hundred or more times over a round of golf. It takes a toll on your spine, and the problem is compounded in amateurs because they notoriously use poor swing mechanics that cause instability in the low back.
Imagine going to the gym and working only one side of your body everyday for years and neglecting the opposite side. Unless you have impeccable conditioning and perfect form, golf tends to create this same type of imbalance in your spinal column, setting golfers up for injury.
For a proper swing you need unrestricted joint motion in the spine and pelvis. Think of your body as a spinning top, with your spine as the axis around which your arms, hands, and golf club rotate. The top can move very fast if the axis remains balanced but will topple over if the axis is unstable. To allow the top to continue spinning as efficiently as possible, it is imperative to have a healthy, freely moveable spine, as well as proper balance in the muscles supporting the spine.
It’s All About Balance
Go to the driving range and watch golfers hit balls and you’ll likely see a lot of tops about to topple over. Professional golfers’ spines, on the other hand, usually perform like a perfectly balanced spinning top. The body works best when the spine is in a neutral, balanced position. When the vertebra in your spine are not in the correct position, however, the action of swinging a golf club means extra wear and tear for your muscles, ligaments and discs. If you repeatedly stretch a muscle, ligament or intervertebral disc to its limit, it will begin to deform and eventually start to tear. In the field of biomechanics this is known as hysteresis, and it can result in muscle strain, ligament sprains, disc herniations and facet joint trauma.
Many people wait until they’re hurting to make an appointment with their doctor to get out of pain. The majority of professional golfers know better and see a chiropractor on a regular basis, whether they’re hurting or not. With regular maintenance chiropractic care, proper conditioning of your core musculature, and a good golf stretching and warm up routine, you too can boost your game and avoid the injuries so common in amateur golfers.
The Ascent Chiropractic Advantage For Golfers
If you’re hoping to improve your rounds of golf but not seeing a chiropractor for regular care, you’re missing out on a key advantage to your game! Need a chiropractor in Brookfield? At Ascent Chiropractic, we specialize in a gentle, hands-on, low-force adjusting technique that allows us to treat patients of all shapes, sizes and conditions. Make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic by calling 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.
Costa SM, et al. Effect of spinal manipulative therapy with stretching compared with stretching alone on full-swing performance of golf players: a randomized pilot trial. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. December 2009; 8(4):165-70.
Gluck G., Bendo J., Spivak F. The lumbar spine and low back pain in golf: a literature review of swing biomechanics and injury prevention. Spine J. September 2008; 8(5):778-788.
McCarroll, JR. The frequency of golf injuries. Clin Sports Med 1996; 15:1-7.