You try to play through it because — well — that’s what you’ve always done. But now it’s yelling at you louder. It’s calling you by name. It’s using your first, middle, and last names the way your parents did when you were in really big trouble. You tough it out. You limp through the last holes like Kirk Gibson rounding the bases in the 1988 World series and head for the bar with your buddies where you order a strong drink which you wish you could inject directly into the base of your spine.
No one likes dealing with pain or injuries out on the golf course. Golf is about getting outside with some friends, enjoying some fun competition, and being able to escape the rest of the world and all of its stressors for a few hours. Nothing puts a damper on such a noble pursuit faster than an injury. The good news is that the most common golf injuries can be prevented from happening or remedied with some simple extracurricular work and golf physical therapy that won’t tax your schedule or your wallet.
Golf injuries tend to be chronic injuries as opposed to acute injuries — like that lower back twinge that you feel on your takeaway or follow-through. It seems like it’s always been there. Sometimes it’s worse than others, but it’s always there. In most other sports, injuries tend to be acute — a tennis player rolling his ankle and dealing with instant swelling, for example.
Chronic injuries are your body’s way of telling you that you’re doing something slightly wrong. (If you were doing something horribly wrong, you’d be dealing with a much more serious injury.)
The most common golf injuries happen when you combine a lifestyle that may be too sedentary with a dynamic movement — like swinging a golf club — that asks a lot of the human body. The result can be knee issues, hip and lower back issues, shoulder issues, or elbow and wrist issues. The guys on TV make the golf swing look so easy, but in reality it’s one of the most complex movements in all of sports. There’s motion at just about every joint in the body and that motion has to occur in a proper sequence while you’re swinging a club about 100 miles per hour.
At the Joey D Golf Sports Training Center in Jupiter, Florida, we’ve been in the golf physical therapy and injury-prevention business from the first day we opened our doors. We know that when the pros are injured, they’re not moving up the World Golf Rankings and they’re not making any money. We also know that when the casual player is injured, he or she isn’t able to play the game they love so much.
Generally, lower body injuries happen when you don’t use the lower body enough in the golf swing. We see a lot of knee, hip, and lower back issues in players who have a very arms-y swing. The optimal golf swing involves both the lower and upper body. When you try to play using just the upper body a few things happen. First of all, a very arms-y swing will negatively affect your golf performance. An arms-y swing is going to lack power; the muscles of the upper body alone can’t generate nearly the same amount of force as the combined strength of the upper and lower body. The second thing that happens is that the knees, hips, and lower back are forced to deal with a lot of rotational force and torque that will eventually lead to pain and injury.
Whereas lower body injuries tend be due to under-use issues, a lot of the upper body injuries that golfers deal with come from over-use. Muscles in the core, back, shoulders, and arms aren’t strong enough to handle the rigors of swinging the club as many times as you do when you play a round of golf or go out and hit a bucket of balls. Weakness in the upper body — a lot of it caused by our more sedentary lives and hours spent with our chins in our chests looking at our phones — can very easily lead to repetitive use issues and injuries.
Of course, the best way to deal with injuries on the course is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Why go through a bunch of sessions with a physical therapist working on rehabilitating an injury when you can avoid that injury altogether by prehabilitating your body?
Prehabilitation looks at the common causes of injuries and treats those causes before they can do much damage. Once you understand your own physical limitations, it’s very easy to adjust your golf fitness conditioning program to specifically address those issues. If you know you’re an upper-body player, for example, you can help prevent knee, hip, and lower back issues by using strengthening, stretching, and movement drills to get your legs and hips into your swing. The added power from your legs and hips will add yards to your drive, while the added lower-body movement will help you swing the club in a more mechanically correct and healthier way.
Before poor posture can lead to chronic upper back and neck pain, movement drills designed to straighten a rounded back can keep you playing Advil-free. As an added bonus, playing with a straighter spine will let you maintain your swing plane a lot easier. If accuracy has been an issue in your game, improving your posture is a sure-fire way to improve your game. You’ll be amazed how much straighter you’ll be hitting the ball after working on your posture.
If tightness in your shoulders — especially in the rotator cuff — has limited the range of your takeaway and follow-through, specific movements designed to increase rotational range-of-motion will not only let you get deeper into both sides of your swing, but will also prevent damage to the small muscles that make up your rotator cuff.
At the Joey D Golf Sports Training Center, golf physical therapy and prehabbing is just as important — if not more so! — than anything else we do here with players. And that goes for all our players — regardless if they’re a World Number One, a top amateur golfer, or a high school kid trying to make her school team. Coach Joey D’s best-selling book Fix Your Body, Fix Your Swing is an excellent resource for discovering — on your own — where prehabbing may help you and your game. It guides you through the process of accessing your own specific body mechanics to let you create a custom golf fitness program that will keep you injury-free while helping you develop more power and accuracy.
Sometimes, though, despite of all your preparation, injuries do occur. Unfortunately, things happen when you’re swinging a driver, wood, or wedge anywhere from 60 to 100 times over the course of your round. And the odds against you are upped if you spend most of your time away from the course sitting at a desk hunched over a keyboard.
But it’s not just adult and senior players that can be bitten by the injury bug. Junior players are just as vulnerable as anyone else, but with some big differences.
Issues affecting older players tend to be mobility issues; body parts are too tight and don’t have the required range-of-motion for an optimal swing. Swinging a club becomes a lot like driving with your emergency brake on. You can get away with it for a little while, but eventually some lights on the dashboard are going to come on.
Junior golfers tend to suffer from weakness issues. Overuse injuries can happen if the muscles in the hips, core, and shoulders haven’t yet developed the muscular endurance to maintain proper form throughout the swing. This lack of strength and stability — especially in players who are still growing — can increase the body’s susceptibility to injury.
But it doesn’t matter whether you’re 15 or 75, a serious enough injury will require some down time and some golf physical therapy. Physical therapy is a great tool for dealing with injury, but it has its limitations. Its goal is to get you back to status quo as quickly and as safely as possible. Its goal, unfortunately, isn’t necessarily to make you a better, safer, or healthier golfer. If you have an injury that requires you to see a physical therapist, though, definitely mention your golf game. Most physical therapists have dealt with sports-related injuries and can give you tips and hints on how to optimally use their rehab exercises so you can spend more time on the course and less time in their office.
When injury prevention is a vital part of your program, you’re going to stay healthier, play more consistently, and have more fun out on the course. If you’re a beginner, that means you’ll be progressing that much faster. If you’re already an avid golfer, get ready to play at a level you’ve only dreamed about. And if you’re one of three World Number One players that call our facility “home,” you better clear off some extra shelf space for more championship trophies.
Our programs — whether you come into our place in Jupiter or work with one of our coaches online — are focused on making you a better golfer while keeping you injury-free. By constantly assessing your body’s physical limitations — where your body may be too weak or too tight — it’s very easy to add specific prehab movements and golf physical therapy treatments to your golf-specific strength and conditioning to come up with a comprehensive performance program that will having you playing the best golf of your life.
Check out the free eBook section of the joeydgolf.com website to read more about Coach Joey D, Kolby “K-Wayne” Tullier, and the philosophies behind the work that goes on down here in Jupiter. And read through our Blog section for articles and videos that cover everything from the pre-round stretching you should be doing to movements and drills for dealing with lower back pain and other golf physical therapy treatments.
A round of golf should be a fun and pleasurable experience. If pain or injury is keeping you from enjoying your time out on the course, let Coach Joey D and the rest of the crew at the Joey D Golf Sports Training Center help you get back in the game, stay healthy, feel great, and shoot lower scores.
While it would be great to have you come in and work with one of the coaches at our 10,000 square-foot state-of-the-art golf training facility, we realize that that may be easier said than done for most of you.
The good news is that you don’t have to live in the Jupiter, Florida area to experience the same game-changing results we’re getting with players here in the training center. Our team of expert coaches are available for private online training. Get the same personalized fitness assessments, individualized workout plans, and one-on-one guidance that the pros get from the comfort of your own home.
You can also grab the best-selling book, “Fix Your Body, Fix Your Swing,” written by Joey Diovisalvi — better known in golf circles as Coach Joey D. The book guides you through easy-to-follow movement pattern assessments and golf-specific exercises and has helped thousands of golfers around the world optimize their bodies for the game since it was published. (Look for the follow-up “Hang the Banner,” written by Coach Joey D and Coach Kolby “K-Wayne” Tullier, later this year!)
HIT IT GREAT ON DEMAND is home to some of the best Tour-proven golf fitness coaches in the world. The site features follow-along golf workout videos for players at all levels, including some can be done at home with just a golf club and some light equipment. Don’t miss the free trial workouts available at hititgreat.com (no credit card required) while it’s available.
It’s designed for golfers of all ages and skill levels and lets you work out as much as you want…on your own schedule.
There is no faster way to improve your golf game than by optimizing your body for the game. Now you have a chance to work with the same coaches that the last three American World Number One golfers trust to optimize theirs.