November 4, 2014
Are you as Athletic as a Tour Pro?
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Have you ever wondered why people get hurt playing golf? After all golf is a recreational sport by nature. Traditionally golfers are not considered athletes. If golf is not athletic, why do you get hurt why playing or why do you hurt after playing?
Not so fast. Professional golfers work just as hard if not harder than most other athletes. I will get to amateur golfers in a minute.
A typical tournament day consists of getting up around 4 am for a workout/warm-up. Then they go to the driving range and hit a bucket of balls (probably around 75 balls or so not including practice swings). After hitting some bunker shots and putts they head to the tee to begin their round. With practice swings and full swings, professionals take around 100 maybe 200 full swings per round. All of this strung out over 4 hours while talking 4-5 miles. After a round, they head to the range and hit another bucket or 2 of balls, then head to the gym for a post workout/cool down. All in all professionals are up before dawn and are still working after dusk, while
The data is unclear on professionals but research on amateurs show they achieve 70-80% of their maximum heart rate while walking and playing golf (Lindsay 2000). This is the same heart rate range we target when prescribing an exercise program to improve cardiovascular health. How many exercise programs do you know last for 4 hours straight, not to mention the peak muscle activity that the golf swing produces.
Let me mention the peak muscle activity that the golf swing produces. Professional golfers swing at 80% of their peak muscle activity (Hosea 1990). Keep in mind they do this hundreds, maybe thousands of times per day, at least 5 maybe 6 days a week, and for months in a row.
So can you see now why professional golfers get hurt? You might or you might not, let me just tell you. Professional golfers get hurt from overuse. Overtime their bodies start to breakdown, because scheduling does not allow proper time to rest. Not to mention they keep extending the golf season and decreasing the off season to allow time to rest.
Here’s a basic overview of the forces on the spine during the golf swing then I will get to amateurs. According to Hosea, the golf swing produces a complex loading pattern in the lumbar spine including shear, compression and axial torsional loads combined with rapid changes in direction of the forces.
Here’s my point. The forces on the spine during the golf swing are clearly enough to cause injury. However, when biomechanics are sound, the likelihood of an injury decreases. Also, the body is built with ways to disperse these forces on the spine including your bones (vertebra of your spine), muscles, ligaments and tendons. When conditioned properly these tissues are able to absorb and disperse these forces. However, when they are overused and abused is when things break down and you get hurt.
Amateurs on the other hand, are more likely to get injured due to biomechanical problems. They either have dysfunction in their bodies which are preventing them from swinging the club properly, or they just don’t understand how to swing the club properly. Here is just a quick list of some of the reasons why amateurs get injured besides biomechanical.
This is what you should do. Find somebody you trust to help address your injury. A good place to start is www.mytpi.com and search for a Medical, Fitness or Teaching professional near you. These types of professionals understand golf swing mechanics and how they relate to the body.
Lindsay 2000. A review of injury characteristics aging factors and prevention programs for the older golfer.
Hosea 1990, 1994. Biomechanical analysis of the golfer’s back.
Gluck 2008. The Lumbar spine and low back pain in golf: a literature review of swing biomechanics and injury prevention.
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