Allow me to pause a moment and address a common question that I receive about stretching before swinging the club. For the majority of individuals, as there are always those exceptions, it is not wise to climb out of the car and begin twisting the torso and bending over to touch the toes. Stretching a “cold” muscle can actually promote injury. The best way to warm up a muscle is by marching or jogging in place, or doing jumping jacks for 2 minutes. Then go through your stretch routine with the adequate blood flow to the muscle. It has been shown that this pre-stretch warm-up works better than ultrasound (not that you would normally carry one along in your golf bag). Now practice or play and lightly stretch throughout the round.
Now, the lower back may need to be worked on after that first round or to break up adhesions that have slowly developed because of inactivity or repetitive strain (including sitting for extended periods!). That generally resolves in just a few visits. What can be very frustrating for injured golfers is when they start with one problem, such as back or hip pain, and then develop a pain somewhere in the shoulder. The most obvious scenario is simply when, say the lower back or hip area hurts, the mechanics of the swing changes to engage more upper body activity to avoid irritating the lower lumbo-pelvic area. Our first goal is usually to clear out the area of pain, with its restriction(s) and then address the other dysfunctional areas so that the repetitive injury cycle is broken. Considering that the golf swing follow-through engages a forced external rotation of the club holding side shoulder, this can actually initiate a shoulder pain that then forces a compensatory mechanical load increase on the lower back or hips to thrust the club through its path. Add an incomplete follow through with an abbreviated or abrupt stop, or too steep a swing angle, and the symptom presentation may amplify.
We will examine to identify what motion is restricted (say forward flexion of the lumbar spine or external rotation of the shoulder), and then treat with tissue specific protocols (i.e. the iliopsoas or infraspinatus adhesion, tightness or weakness rather than just a generalized lower back or shoulder mobilization) with appropriate spinal or other joint adjustment, Active Release Technique, Graston Instrument, LLLT (Cold Laser), Frequency Specific Microcurrent or ultrasound and then advise you on exercises.
I hope this information is helpful and that your golf season is most rewarding this year!
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