The Golf Swing

golf-and-osteopathyThe golf swing is a highly complex movement pattern that requires coordination of all the body’s joints and muscles along with timing and balance. Due to the length of the golf club even small variations in movement are amplified resulting in large changes in golf-head trajectory. For this reason even small dysfunctions in movement patterns can have large disturbances in performances. One of the guiding principles of osteopathy is that we consider the body as a unit. What this means is we do not look at any one part of the body in isolation. When examining a golfer we always look at the whole kinetic chain involved in the golf swing.

Aims of osteopathic treatment for golfers
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  • Optimize performance
  • Prevent injury
  • Recover from existing injury

Good trunk rotation is a key part of the golf swing. In particular the thoracic spine (the section of the spine that has ribs attached) is responsible for the majority of the trunks overall movement. Restrictions here can lead to excessive strain being placed on the lower back and neck; this can shorten the length of the overall swing and reduce efficiency of the swing. Other joints may try to compensate for this lack of movement by becoming more mobile.

The lower back is one of the most common injury sites in golfers. The golf swing ends with extension of the lower back. Good control and strength of the abdominal muscles is required to prevent hypertension of the lower back which can cause disk and facet joint injuries.

Good rotation of the hips, in particular good internal rotation of the lead hip, is important in a good follow through of the swing. Restriction in this area will lead to extra strains and stresses being place on the lower back and on the lead knee making them vulnerable to injury.

The golfer needs good neck rotation and stability to enable good eye-to-ball contact, during the golf swing. Restrictions within individual joints will disturb the overall movement of the neck.

Some golfers find it difficult to avoid hunching the back during their stance phase. This slumped movement prevents full rotation of the spine during both the back and forward swing. With the appropriate cues the golfer is able to learn how to hold the spine in a neutral forward/backward position and increase the range of movement and power, and this lower the risk of injury.

Osteopathic treatment

Osteopaths use a hands on approach in treatment of injuries. A range of techniques that can be used include:
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  • Trigger point release
  • Progressive stretching
  • Muscle Energy Technique (MET) stretching
  • Positional release
  • Joint manipulation
  • Joint articulation
  • Soft tissue manipulation/massage
  • Exercise prescription – strength, stretching, balance, proprioception (sense of position and movement), functional control, and core stability

Please call your Osteopath at Melbourne Osteopathic Clinic on 03 9663 4460 or visit our clinic at Level 1, Druids House, 407-9 Swanston Street in Melbourne for more information.