It’s no great revelation that the better shape you’re in, not only can you perform better on the links, but you’re less likely to get injured. However, it’s not a given that you will remain injury-free due to your workout program. Sometimes, everyday life and improper workout regimens, plus the demands of the golf swing, can lead to overworked, inflexible, imbalanced muscles, causing weakness and painful muscles, no matter your fitness level.
For instance, a sedentary job, in which you’re sitting at a desk, hunched over a computer for long periods of time, can cause poor posture—leading to lumbar lordosis (an increased inward curving of the lumbar spine) or thoracic kyphosis (extreme curvature of the upper back), among other conditions.
Add in the golf swing (especially improper)—which is a stressful, forceful, repetitive motion that can tax the lower back, rotator cuff, shoulders, hip, knees, wrists and elbows—and problems such as muscle tightness and agonizing spams can occur. This may lead to a poor golf swing, and eventual injury. Since a serious muscle spasm doesn’t release on its own, you’ll need manual stretching and/or sports massage to help relax and elongate the shortened, contracted muscle. Plus, the right resistance exercises to strengthen affected muscles. At the heart of restorative sport massage is myofascial release, a soft tissue therapy used for the treatment of skeletal muscle tension, immobility and pain that may be caused by poor posture, and repetitive and overuse type of activities such as the golf swing. Each session is performed directly on the skin, without the use of lubricants or devices. Therefore, the therapist can better determine fascial restrictions through direct touch and apply the appropriate amount of sustained pressure to facilitate release of the fascia.
Fascia is connective tissue fibers, primarily collagen, which holds and stabilizes everything in the body. When the fascia becomes tense and constricted, pain and dysfunction usually turn up somewhere in the body, not always in the directly affected area, however. For example, when an avid golfer experiences tightness in their lower back, a sports massage therapist might start with work on the hamstrings, which often become overburdened and asymmetrical due to the high rate of usage in golf, and in everyday life. Then, they’ll progress to the lower back for more direct relief.
Resistance exercises such as hyperextensions should follow up to strengthen the lower back muscles.
The hip flexors (Iliopsoas— Iliacus and the Psoas Major) are another muscle group known to become tight and uneven, not only for golfers, but the average person as well. This is because of the constant use in normal, everyday life, as well as the demands the sport places on the muscles.
When tense and inflexible, the iliopsoas will cause the trunk to be pulled forward, triggering some pain and discomfort in the lower back region. This will no doubt lead to an ineffective golf hack, and possible injury to the hips and shoulders, not to mention lower back, as a result of muscle imbalance due to overcompensation.
Sports massage to this area, along with manually stretching of the iliopsoas, will help remedy the dilemma. Add in seated rows (narrow and wipe grips) to help counteract thoracic kyphosis.
Additional areas of concern for golfers are tight calf muscle, due to the heavy walking demands of a day of golf, along with everyday life. This can affect your lower back and shoulders, thus throwing off your swing. A golfer may be lamenting of a shoulder pain and a sports massage therapist may work on the lower legs first (front or back, or both—depending upon where the pain is) before finishing up with the shoulder area.
If the gastrocnemius (back of lower leg) muscles are casing the imbalance, dorsiflexion exercises (hinging the foot upward at the ankle or talocrural joint) such as heel walking and seated toe raises are in order so the shin muscles (tibialis anterior and extensor digitorum longus) get worked.
Point your toes onto the floor, and push your knee forward, plantar flexing your ankle for a great shin stretch.
If it’s the shin muscles that are causing the problem, then perform plantar flexion exercises such as toe walking or calf raises. Follow it up with dorsiflexion stretches (pulling on your toes in the dorsi-flex position) to help loosen up the tightness.
Whatever your areas of concerns are, a professional sports massage therapist will evaluate you first, and take it from there. You’ll no doubt return to socking that little, dimpled ball a pain-free country mile in no time.
* Special Note — the information above is for reference only. Please consult with a licensed medical professional or credentialed health and fitness professional for more information.
Written by Jerry Del Priore for bodono.
Jerry Del Priore has worked as a certified personal trainer, and received his degree in Physical Education from Brooklyn College. Jerry is also a veteran print and digital Sports Writer-Reporter-Author experienced in writing in-depth profile stories on a variety of high school, college and professional athletes and teams. He covers several Brooklyn areas including Canarsie, Bensonhurst, Old Mill Basin, Mill Basin, Bergen Beach, Gravesend, East NY, East Flatbush, Fort Greene, Georgetown, Marine Park and Gerritsen Beach, among other areas in NYC and Long Island. Additionally, Jerry has developed a presentation based on his book, Running Through Roadblocks, that encourages children to overcome obstacles and never give up…no matter what! Specialties: Baseball, football, hockey and basketball writing. Jerry also has covered lacrosse, soccer, golf and track and field, with ample experience cover women’s sports. Food Writer/Blogger experienced in venue write-ups and reviews. In addition, Jerry has ample experience working with medically fragile children, children with behavioral challenges and children with cognitively impairments. Read Jerry Del Prior’s book: Running Through Roadblocks and view his presentation.