Overview Of Golf Conditioning
Golf is usually viewed as a game of
technical skill not one as an athletic event. However, golf is a very
physically demanding sport. Research shows that amateur golfers use 90% of
their peak muscle activity when driving a golf ball. This 90% peak
activity equates to an exertion of lifting a maximal weight four times
before fatiguing. It is remarkable that golfers have to drive a ball an
average of 30-40 times at this level of exertion during a typical 18-round
Aerobically, golfers typically walk four
to six miles in playing a round of golf.
Until recently, few golfers recognized the
need for improving their physical conditioning as a component of golf
success. Physical conditioning has to be based on a foundation of optimal
performance flexibility. Optimal
flexibility eliminates the variations to golf mechanics, promotes proper
conditioning, reduces the fatigue factor and the breakdown of
In the past twenty years amateur golfers
handicaps have not changed. Twenty years ago men golfer’s handicaps were
16.2 whereas the women’s was 29. Recently, men golfer’s handicaps were
measured and remained at 16.2 unchanged nor has the women’s handicap
changed at 29.
What does this indicate to the golfing
industry? Amateur golfers have not improved in their game despite all the
technological advances; however, elite professionals have improved
their scores as well as their strength in driving the ball longer
distances. Elite players have benefited from advances in equipment and
ball technology and design, which led to their performance improvement.
Another reason given for the success of the elite golfers is their
improved conditioning and flexibility routines. Science shows that
conditioning and flexibility help reduce injuries, balances out weaknesses
and minimizes adjustments in the golf swing mechanics.
Since the 1960’s the average length of
golf drives have only increased by six yards. As mentioned earlier, there
is no change in the amateur golfers' handicaps over the 20-30 year period.
The notable findings however are the elite level where the US Open
Championships scores have dropped an average of two strokes every ten
Golf ranks fifth overall in rate of
injuries of the most common twenty sporting activities analyzed. Back
injury is the most common for all golfers at any given time and affects
50% of golfers. The primary reason for back injury is muscular weakness in
combination with poor mechanics. Poor mechanics are defined at excessive
or uneven bending and twisting in the lumbar pelvic structures especially
between lumbar 2 and lumbar 4 vertebrae - notably L3-4.
Back pain causes have been analyzed and
have been found to be from multiple musculoskeletal structures. Screening
techniques developed by physical therapists and fitness trainers help
identify muscular skeletal sources for the pains and establish the mechanisms
The key to identifying the cause of pain and injury are diagnostic tests
to be as specific as possible to the cause of the pain as well as to the
mechanism of injury. Frequently, health professionals focus on the
symptomatic pain and removing this pain quality rather than addressing the
underlying cause that precipitated the pain. Unless the cause of the
problem is corrected, this problem will extend to other structures
adjacent to it.
Assuming no underlying structural damage
or disc problem is found, the more successful technique in optimizing
recovery and restoring proper mechanics are forms of muscular releases. A
more technical term is myofascial release techniques. Effective myofascial release
techniques are based on sound anatomical anatomy isolating the individual
structures while minimizing strain or injury to other structures.
The most specific to anatomy and
biomechanics of myofascial release techniques have been the Mattes Method
of Active Isolated Stretch (AIS) and Active Release Technique (ART). Both
of these methods are excellent in providing myofascial functional
restoration. Other techniques that are utilized include Rolfing, yoga,
massage and neuromuscular massage.
At a professional level at any given time
there are as many as 30% of playing golf professionals who are in the
tournament participating with low back injuries. Men are slightly more
prevalent with back injuries than their female LPGA counterparts. Another
interesting statistic reveals that those players who golf and play another
sport are 40% more likely to develop back pain when compared to those who
only play golf.
Once assessments are completed, specific muscle weaknesses and imbalances are
identified. Correction of pain
is just the first step of treating golf injury whereas proper conditioning
and strengthening is as equally important in the prevention of
Should you have any further questions
regarding this article, please direct your questions or comments to "Ask
the Doctor" section.
Copyright © 2004 - 2012Taras V.
Kochno, M.D. All Rights Reserved
Board Certified in
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation