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Golf Swing Faults and Resulting Injuries

 

Arnold Palmer said it best, "Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated.  It satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect.  It is at the same time rewarding and maddening.  It is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented."

 

Golf has evolved greatly, but the most significant changes occurred from the 1960’s to the 1990’s. During that time, changes in equipment and balls allowed the golfer to increase the average length of his drives by six yards. Additionally, the average of elite golfers completing four rounds in the U.S. Open Championships have dropped at a rate of about two strokes per ten years.

 

Since that time, many scientists including kinesiologists, therapists and physicists have tried to analyze golf at its most technical laboratory analysis. They found that the mechanics of the golf swing involves two groups of muscles. The first group, called large muscles, included the trunk, hips and legs whereas, the second group, termed the small muscles, included the shoulder girdle, upper arm, forearm, wrists and hands.  The larger muscles contribute more towards power.

 

The golf swing can be broken down into three distinct phases. These are:

 

1) posture

2) the swing motion and

3) the club-ball impact and finish.

 

Posture is described as the position of the body at “address” establishing a center of balance.

The swing phase includes the backswing or takeaway, which initiates and moves the club away from the ball to the top of the swing where then the downward motion of moving the club toward the ball is termed the downswing.

The impact and finish is the outcome of maintaining proper posture, appropriate body mechanics downswing such that the clubface strikes the ball with the highest mechanics of the linear acceleration.

The golf swing creates compression, shearing, torsion and lateral bending of the lumbar spine. Biomechanical analysis showed that the greatest compressive force on the lumbar spin is at the L3-4 level.  

Studies showed that, during the backswing, the lumbar spine experiences a a force increase of eight times its body weight. In the backswing through impact, a time sequence of 0.4 seconds, the body weight on the lumbar spine decreases then increases again to six times the body weight.

Muscle activity of the golf swing has been studied with the use of myoelectric sensors called surface EMGs.  Proper sequencing of muscle groups creates a more fluid and powerful swing.

 

 

Common Golf Swing Problems and How They Relate to Injuries

 

Problem 1:  An overly strong right grip position for right-handed golfers.

The belief was that keeping a strong right-hand grip would produce a stronger shot with more control.  However, results show that the opposite will occur as well.  There is a potential for injury results in an overly tense forearm that inhibits the natural rotation of the wrists.  This injury most likely for this problem will be medial epicondylitis of the elbow.

 

Problem 2:  Excessive grip pressure of both hands.

The problem is that tension is increased through  the forearms and transmitted to the pectorals, upper trapezial and cervical muscles. Tension of these muscles inhibits scapular movements during backswing and follow-through. This excessive grip strength along with forearm tension will result in medial epicondylitis of both elbows. This is a common problem especially in the female golfer.

 

Problem 3:  The hands and arms are held too high and away from the body.

With the arm placed away from the body and the hands too high, this position disconnects the trunk and the legs which  assist in the swing. Potential injury is created by an increased torque and twist of the upper body both in the backswing and the downswing.  Spinal injuries will result in mid thoracic and low back area due to increased tension.

 

Problem 4:  Body and trunk being excessively bent forward.

The body and trunk being excessively bent forward toward the ball, will put increased stress on all spinal segments, but notably will create increased tension in the lumbar spine.

 

Problem 5:  Thrusting the hip toward the ball during impact.

Another common mistake is to lunge the hips toward the ball at impact.  This forward lunging creates an unbalanced position to the body causing mal-alignment of the spine over the pelvis.  This movement laterally may predispose to iliolumbar ligament sprains.

 

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

 

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