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Bring Out Your Golf Beast: Secrets of the Pros

By Dr. Scott Rosenthal

There are roughly 30 million golfers in the US alone. This translates into 720 million spinal bones, 690 million discs, 60 million hips, 30 million tailbones and a ton of joints in the upper and lower extremities. All these body parts are subjected to the high speed, asymmetrical twisting movements you perform over the 4 hour period it typically takes to play 18 holes. These actions not only result in an assault on the little white ball, but on your body, as well. Your final score depends on each of your body parts working optimally and injury-free. This explains why so many golf pros have the same secret weapon to keep them performing... well, as a PRO! This edge-enhancer and survival essential does not fit in a golf bag, become part of your sports wardrobe, or require selling one's soul to the devil at the crossroads. It's a doctor of chiropractic!

After Jordan Spieth won the 2015 Masters Tournament, he stated the following about his chiropractor:

“Dr. Van Biezen is an important member of my team and, thanks to his care, my all-time dream of winning the Masters Tournament has now become a reality.”

In order to understand how chiropractic care can help you golf better and overcome or prevent injury, you need to recognize three common enemies:

  • Poor Posture
  • Lack of Flexibility
  • Poor Swing Mechanics

This article will focus on the first two problems: poor posture and inflexibility. If your swing mechanics need help, visit your pro for a lesson.

Good posture and healthy spinal curves are vital to achieve a smooth, accurate and powerful swing. It's true that the spine should be straight from the front view, but from the side there are two types of curves that contribute to a perfect mix of strength and flexibility. The first curve is found in the mid-back and tailbone and is the forward facing curve that you were born with and carry throughout life. The second develop in the neck and lower back as you first learn to lift your head and walk as a baby.

Too often the normal curves become overly arched, thus rounding the back and thrusting the head forward. This may be due to an injury or an accumulation of injuries, or your habits: sitting at a desk or in your car, sleeping on an unsupportive pillow, etc. Ironically, spinal bone misalignment can cause and be caused by a loss of normal curvature and posture. Muscles weaken. Ligaments either abnormally shorten or lengthen.

In order to feel the difference proper spinal posture makes, try the following test:

  1. Sit on a chair or bench without having your back touch.
  2. With arms crossed, slouch forward with your chin tucked.
  3. Rotate your shoulders right to left and observe the range of motion achieved.
  4. Now sit tall and erect with your chin in a neutral position, roll your shoulders back once and cross your arms again.
  5. Rotate your shoulders right to left and observe the greater range that you reach.

A joint is a perfectly designed machine by nature that combines flexibility with stability. Too much movement causes instability. Conversely, too much stability brings loss of function. Golf, like any other performance activity in life, requires harmony within a joint in order to perform optimally with enough stability to protect against injury.

The same actions that contribute to a loss of normal curvature in the spine can lead spinal, pelvic or extremity joints to misalign and/or fixate. This results in a loss of flexibility and strength. Just one misalignment can dramatically decrease function and increase the probability of injury. Think of your car. Imagine the damaging effects on performance, higher accelerated rate of tread wear and a greater probability of a blowout when a front tire is just a few millimeters out of alignment. With golf, the slightest loss of alignment in the pelvic region alone can cause you to weaken, slice and ruin your shot!

Central to the practice of chiropractic is the detection and correction of joint misalignment and fixation, improving posture and guiding patients to adopt a healthier lifestyle. With the use of gentle adjustments, soft tissue releases, strengthening exercises and sound advice, your doctor of chiropractic is the perfect practitioner. He or she will help you overcome the structural problems that have been restraining the best golfer inside you from getting out on the course. Besides aiding the injured amateurs or pros on the circuit, chiropractic care is instrumental in helping the healthy golfer improve his or her game.

Can you guess who said this? "Lifting weights and seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis have made me a better golfer. I’ve been going to chiropractors for as long as I can remember. It’s as important to my training as practicing my swing.” That's right, Tiger Woods.

Barbara Bunkowsky, a LPGA tour professional, remarked, "I have found that chiropractic keeps me flexible and pain-free so that I can perform at my highest level. The benefits of chiropractic have improved my golf swing, putting less stress and strain on my body and allowing me to be a more productive golfer.”

Tired of missing your shot? Slicing? Coming up short? Slouching with poor posture? Already injured, hurt or feel inflexible? Want to golf more often with more vigor and less pain? If so, your choice is not whether you should see a chiropractor, but when. By addressing the structural causes that contribute to a poor and/or painful golf experience, with chiropractic care, you can take your game to the next level. With a few chiropractic adjustments, you can bring out your inner golf beast!