As I’ve stated in past blog posts, we have the Swing-Fit program here at Tulsa Spine & Rehab and this is a golf-specific division. I am a certified medical provider through the Titlist Performance Institute which qualifies me to tease out physical problems that may impede your golf swing. While you would see a teaching professional or instructor to improve your game, you would see me for improvement in your actual physical ability to play your game. Your limitations might involve mobility or flexion, or you may be suffering with weakness in one area and these deficiencies can create problems in your swing.
The age group we treat predominantly is 40 to 60 years old and the majority of complaints stem from low back pain. Back pain can originate from the hips or the thoracic/mid-back region and this can surprise a lot of our patients who don’t realize pain can radiate to different areas of your back. Most problems originate from sitting at a desk or a car for long periods of time. We live in a forward world and everything catches up with us over time; we start to develop restrictions in movement and tightness either in the mid-back or thoracic spine area between our shoulder blades. Because of these restrictions, we compensate by finding movement in another area, usually the low back area. This can set us up for degenerative joint disease, arthritis and disc problems.
How do We Recognize Serious Problems?
Golf is obviously a rotary sport that involves velocity and load on our lumbar spine. When we play a game where we fail to hit any balls, when we go out on the number one T and swing as hard as we can, it potentially can cause damage to our low back. I talk to patients about the importance of increasing their flexibility in their mid-back, their thoracic spine and hips because an ounce of prevention can save considerable cure later down the road.
Whenever anyone comes to me, even guys in my own golf group, I take a three minute history to see if they have low back pain or if there was a problem in the past. If not, then my advice is to keep an eye on it and if it hasn’t resolved in a few days, get it checked out.
In particular, we do not subscribe to the old saying, “No pain, no gain.” If something is uncomfortable or painful, we need to know about it. We’ll dig a little deeper to make sure we know exactly what we’re dealing with and because we don’t want to cause further aggravation. We will also modify your activities to avoid aggravation because pain is your body’s way of expressing discomfort to your brain.
The end result is that we want our golfers playing pain-free because it should be an enjoyable experience and pain is not enjoyable. We try to improve their distance in striking the ball and fortunately, golf is a game that can be enjoyed by many senior players who are even in their 80’s. We have had a lot of people coming to us saying they really have no pain at present, but they want to be able to continue playing as seniors and they want to know what they should be doing. We are happy to advise them and assist them so that they can achieve their wish to remain active golfers as long as physically possible.