By: Dr. Brian P. Kinmartin, PT, DPT, MTC, OCS, STC, CWcHP, Cert. DN
One of the most common complaints I see clinically in the aging golfer is either back pain during golf, or immediately following, accompanied by loss of driving distance off the tee. Guess what, they are probably related!
There are many factors that can cause a loss in driving distance with golf, but the most common is loss of swing velocity. As most golf fanatics know, golf is a game of angular of velocity. Angular velocity is the angular speed of an object along with the direction it is rotating. In golf terms, the faster your club head is going at the bottom of your swing, the greater the amount of energy that will be transferred from club head to the ball, and the farther the ball will go. Professional golfers on average exceed a club head speed of 100 mph at the bottom of their swing. The end result of this is that beautiful effortless drive off the tee that seems to go on forever. Loss of swing velocity equates to loss of club head speed, which results in loss of transference of energy from club head to ball with the end result being loss in driving distance.
There are many mechanical factors that can contribute to loss of swing velocity in golfers. For the purpose of this article we are going to focus on loss of spinal mobility, especially in the thoracic spine (middle back) and how its loss of transference of energy can not only limit your driving distance, but also contribute towards the onset of back pain. The general aging trend in both males and females is loss of spinal mobility; various factors including activity level and genetics determine exactly how much mobility we loose. The orientations of the facet joints in the thoracic spine are designed primarily for rotational activities. When it comes to the relationship between spinal mobility and golf, this is where angular velocity needs to be transferred to the club during the swing to improve swing velocity.
When the mobility in this part of the spine is limited, the rotational force of the golf swing is reduced, not only is it reduced, but it is also transferred into the lower back region, where the orientation of the joints is primarily designed for bending and straightening.
Excessive stress to the lower back caused by limited mobility in the thoracic spine is the most common cause of lower back pain in golfers, which we see clinically.
The good news is there is something you can do about it. Something that will help you regain some of your lost distance as well as reduce your back pain during and after golf. Just because this area has stiffened and the muscles have shortened does not mean it has to stay that way and you have to accept your reduction in performance on the course.
Physical Therapists are licensed healthcare professionals trained in the evaluation and treatment of musculoskeletal and movement dysfunctions. Many golfers are now seeking the skills of Physical Therapists for consultations on joint mobility, flexibility, strength and conditioning deficits that are affecting their swing dynamics and ultimately their game performance. While working with Physical Therapists golfers are getting individualized training programs addressing, balance, body mechanics, posture and fitness which is reducing their number of strokes, increasing their accuracy, increasing their driving distance and reducing the stress on their muscle and joints. This is increasing their performance on the course and keeping them in the game that they love for a longer time.
At Professional Rehabilitation Services, we treat a wide variety of musculoskeletal conditions using the latest in evidence based therapies provided by highly credentialed physical therapists. In addition to being licensed physical therapists, our providers have additional specialty certifications and training in orthopedics, manual therapy, sports, strength and conditioning, vestibular treatment, and dry needling. For further information on this or other related topics you can contact Richard DeFalco, DPT, OCS, CSCS, CWcHP, Cert. DN at Professional Rehabilitation Services (Myrtle Beach) (843) 839-1300, Kristin Lies, DPT (Murrells Inlet) (843) 314-3224, Brian P. Kinmartin, PT, DPT, MTC, OCS, STC, CWcHP, Cert. DN (Pawleys Island) (843) 235-0200, or Richard A. Owens, PT, MS, OCS, Cert. SHT, CWcHP, Cert DN (Surfside) (843) 831-0163, or visit our website at www.prsrehabservices.com where you can learn more about the company and even download a referral form for you physician to fill out. Professional Rehabilitation Services has 5 convenient locations: Pawleys Island, Murrells Inlet, Surfside Beach, Myrtle Beach, and Conway. You can also call and schedule a free 15-minute consultation!