Golf is tough. It’s hard enough to hit a 1.68-inch ball to 18 specific locations in fewer than 72 shots (like LPGA golfers are doing this week in Southampton, NY), but without a proper golf swing, the game is hard on the body too. Sports medicine orthopedists are witnesses of golf’s growing popularity by the increasing number of golf-related injuries we treat.
Studies show that improper golf swing mechanics in middle- to high-handicap groups contribute to golf-related injuries. These injuries typically relate to lack of appropriate warm up, poor torso flexibility and strength, faulty swing technique, fatigue and overuse. Using a training program that includes flexibility, strength and power training with correction of faulty swing mechanics helps reduce the likelihood of injury. In addition, golf-specific programs can improve swing mechanics and shot consistency by increasing club head velocity, ball speed and driving distance.
Ways to Improve the Golf Swing
Golf-specific exercise programs focus on many areas of the golf swing, including reducing the path of the hands during the downswing, increasing wrist torque, increasing downswing breadth, improving sequential acceleration of body parts and improving weight transfer. Also, maximizing the difference in rotation of the hips and shoulders at the top of the back swing and early down swing help improve club head speed at impact. Many professionals use this “X-factor stretch” to improve their golf-swing mechanics and driving distance. By coupling thorax and pelvis motion, golfers simplify motor control during the downswing, which leads to more consistent swing mechanics and reduced injuries.
Novice golfers can improve their game with exercise programs of distributed practice involving several weekly sessions of blocked, error-free practice. Variable practice may be better for skilled golfers. Video recording, verbal feedback and continued critique of swing techniques can improve swing mechanics too. So improving your golf swing may not only lead to a lower risk of injury, it may just help you put that 1.68-inch ball into those 4.25-inch cups.
Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Services (STARS) offers sports-enhancement training throughout the metro-New York area, including Titleist Performance Institute-credentialed physical therapists and the K-Vest motion-capture system. Call 516-393-8872 to learn more.