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Is Your Body Messing up Your Golf Swing?

Dr. Lisa Goodman, DC, CCSP, CACCP, TPI-L1, CF-L1/Kids

Have you given much thought to why you swing the golf club the way that you do? Have your golf buddies ever given you a nickname based on your swing? You know who you are. And most of you have even just accepted that you "slide" or "come over the top". Potentially you don't really know what is wrong with your swing, but you do know that you always "slice", "top" or "hit it fat". Has your coach ever given you a cue or instruction over and over again but the change just doesn't stick? Maybe these things are not your fault. Maybe you have a really strong desire to do what coach is telling you, but your body cannot cooperate. Whether your body mechanics are due to pain, genetics or developed over time, they may be creating compensation and dysfunction and thus something wonky in your golf swing.

The Body-Swing Connection

The amazing people at the Titleist Performance Institute have spent decades integrating golf coaches, fitness professionals and medical professionals (like me!) for one reason: your body mechanics have a direct correlation to your golf swing. This is fascinating but simple stuff. Here are few examples:

  • Topping the ball may be because you are standing up during your downswing. This could be a result of having poor ankle mobility

  • Coming over the top on your downswing could be because you aren't physically able to turn your shoulders enough

  • A slice that is due to a club face angle issue could actually be because you don't have the wrist range of motion to close the club properly

As a TPI L1 medical professional, I won't even attempt to coach your swing or your swing mechanics. Not a chance. But I will perform a 16 step physical exam (screen) to determine if there are biomechanical reasons for your swing patterns. This is so cool. The screen will evaluate you from head to toe - literally. Following the screen we'll have a lot to discuss. We may need a series of manual therapy appointments such as chiropractic, graston or massage to improve hip, shoulder or wrist mobility. Or we may need to prescribe a program of exercises to improve glute or core engagement. Or it may be as simple a new warm up before hitting the range or teeing off to cue better movement patterns.

Let's Talk About Pain

Is golf hurting you? The TPI method of screening, treating and coaching is great for your golf game, but arguably more important is your physical health. If golfing is causing you pain this is a huge red flag. The game will not be sustainable if you are playing in pain. Even worse if the game is what is causing your pain. There are four swing characteristics that commonly result in lower back pain and you may have no idea you are doing them. There are two swing characteristics that commonly result on elbow pain and if you don't have a TPI certified golf coach, you may be unaware that they are hurting you. While I won't coach your swing, I do want to see your swing. I will ask you to send me a few videos and I will do a swing assessment to correlate with your physical screen. Then, we will have a good plan to move your golf game forward without pain.

The Team Approach

As a TPI certified sports and pediatric chiropractor and CrossFit coach, I am well qualified to work with your biomechanical nuances and get you fixed up physically. But like I said, that is why I will highly recommend you also incorporate a TPI certified golf coach into the team. In some cases I will also recommend a dedicated TPI certified fitness professional to take your rehab and strength game to the next level. You can find local coaches and fitness professionals here.

Adult golfers - You have spent decades establishing (potentially bad) habits that might be due to pain or a mechanical compensation, there is still so much help available to you. Making small changes over time - and even just being aware that they need to be made - will make a difference. If you are planning to play golf through your retirement it is not to early to be evaluated now. Bonus - you will probably hit the ball faster, farther and straighter once we address your physical capabilities.

Junior golfers - Parents, if you knew how to avoid bad movement patterns in high school, imagine the golfer you might be now. After about age 12 a biomechanical assessment is crucial! Teaching kids and teens how to move and understanding where their habitual or genetic biomechanics are affecting their golf game is so important. If you are interested in a competitive advantage, my TPI screen and treatment is a must. But again, the most important thing is preventing injury and protecting your junior golfer's longevity in this great game.

No One Way to Swing

Have you ever tried to emulate a PGA tour golfer? Have you ever wondered why Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm have drastically different swings? Need I say more about the importance of understanding your own biomechanics? One of the greatest things about the TPI philosophy is that TPI does not believe in one way to swing a club, rather in an infinite number of swing styles. But, they do believe there is one efficient way for every player to swing and it is based on what the player can physically do. If you are interested in improving your game, decreasing pain and knowing what your body can do, set up an evaluation.

Lisa Goodman, DC, CCSP, CACCP founded Washington Park Chiropractic in 2006 in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Goodman is a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP) and Certified Prenatal and Pediatric Chiropractor (CACCP). She is TPI-L1 certified through the Titleist Performance Institute. She is also a CrossFit Level 1 and CrossFit Kids Certified Trainer. Dr. Goodman incorporates sports chiropractic techniques with prenatal and pediatric patients. She is an instructor at Logan University's Masters of Science in Integrative Pediatrics program. She is a member of the ACA Pediatrics Council and the ACA Sports Council. Areas of special interest include golf biomechanics, youth athletes, ankle and wrist injuries, instrument assisted soft tissue techniques, strength training, and pediatric fitness. Stay connected with Dr. Goodman on Instagram @washparkchiro or @lisakgoodman


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