In the past few years, nagging lower back issues have hampered my golf swing and everyday lifestyle. I have hit over 5 million golf balls over the last 30-plus years, and it has taken its toll. The interesting thing is that when I am warmed up, the pain often subsides. I enjoy many different sports besides golf: cross-training, cycling, swimming, running, triathlons, tennis, etc. I have noted often that I am capable of lifting or moving large amounts of weights during the exercises, but sitting at a desk for three hours can sometimes be excruciating. The same scenario has also happened to my should and upper back. Different doctors, therapists and chiropractors have told me different theories and treatments, some which have aided, but none in a great way. However, recently I have found something that seems to offer a solution that seems to be a long-term treatment and solution: yoga and yoga-like stretching! For the first time in years, my lower back and hips have ached dramatically less. I have seen an advancement in my hip mobility and ability to maintain my spine angle throughout the golf swing. Maintaining your spine angle in the golf swing is one of the key components of good ball striking and a trademark of all the great players. It is impossible to achieve with tight hip flexors and small-muscles imbalances. The body is holistic, with the muscles and tendons very much dependent and interconnected to one another. For years I trained in the typical weight-room manner. Now, I rarely do the traditional weight training like you see most people in the gym focusing on, i.e. bench presses and static weightlifting. I am much more focused on dynamic motion and body-weight-type movements. Combined with this, I do dynamic stretching and yoga. These changes have contributed greatly to maintaining and improving my swing. Swinging a golf club for years causes imbalances in muscles, which in turn creates compensations and overuse of certain muscle groups. This leads to injuries and swing flaws. Next time when working with a student, take into consideration that some of the swing flaws noted could be a direct result of injuries and/or lack of mobility. Maintaining the spine angle, for example, is more than a function of “keep your head down.” The flaw could be a result of the lack of the ability to physically do the proper movement because of body compensations. Remember to look at the golf swing in a “holistic way” which will contribute to the longer improvement and longevity that students are looking for. As a golf instructor, educate yourself and use as many resources in the physical fitness field to further enhance your students’ enjoyment of the game of golf.
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