Golf Swing and Deep Tissue Massage II


Probably the most common cause of a poor swing occurs where the lower back is unable to rotate freely, leading to poor upswing and down swing.

To rotate the lower spine needs to be aligned well and free to move.  By aligned, we mean that the spine needs to be sitting on top of the pelvis at an anatomically appropriate angle. Even though when swinging a club the body is typically bent forward slightly, the lumbar curve must be maintained at the right angle.

Problems occur when the body is unable to maintain the curve. Many people, even without the requirement to lean forward, are unable to maintain a good lumbar curve due to muscular imbalances and habitual postures (sitting and standing). With the body leaning forward, and the center of gravity now forward of the hips, this becomes even more of a problem.

Control of the lumbar curve comes through four sets of muscles that act on the pelvis. The most common cause of changes to the pelvic tilt ( the forward / backward rotation of the pelvis) is overly tight, or weak muscles or sets of muscles.

These sets are:

1. the erector spinae group and quadratus lumborum. (Back muscles)

2. the abdominal muscles, including obliques (abdominals)

3. The hamstrings, gluteals (leg extensors)

4. Quadriceps groups (quads)

Since the body responds to gravity, and the forces are moving upwards through the legs to pelvis and back, lets assume no problems with the legs, and imagine the head of the femur (thighbone) in the center of the circle.

The four sets of muscles are represented by the arrows and the pelvis by the circle.  The pelvis will in a sense tilt forward and backward around the head of the femur depending on the muscles actions (and gravity).   If all muscle sets are tensioned correctly, the pelvis and spine will be in the correct position.

Forward tilt.

Now imagine pulling arrow number 1 up, representing tight back muscles. the circle will rotate clockwise.  Double up on that rotation by pulling down arrow number four, representing tight quads and you have a very common scenario which will create a excessive lumbar curve (called lordosis). In this state the lumbar vertebrae are compressed and cannot rotate well, and the risk of injury is high.

Inherent in this scenario is the inability of the abdominal muscles and leg extensors to resist the tilt.  They are likely weak.  This is very common as we grow older with poor exercise habits leaving the abdominals weak and the gluteals losing muscle mass from inactivity.

Backward tilt.

Imagine the reverse scenario with tight hamstrings.  Pull down on arrow 3, creating a anticlockwise rotation and the pelvis tilts posteriorly.  This will flatten the curve of the back, again restricting rotation.  Tight abdominals (seemingly rare) will assist, as does weak quadriceps and back muscles.

This situation is more common when wearing high heels shoes, and sitting for prolonged periods.

Correcting imbalances.

In order to play 18 holes without injury, great scores and in comfort, we need to restore the right amount of tone in weak muscles, and proper length in tight muscles through stretching, deep tissue massage and strengthening exercises.    Of course we can force them to accommodate our swing, but as muscles tire the risk of injury increases as does the number of bad shots.   Instead, correct maintenance of the muscular balance is the key to lower scores and more years enjoying the game.

For a thorough assessment of your pelvic tilt, and how it can be affecting your performance, see the physiotherapists at Bangkok Deep Tissue Massage at the Aspire Club  for an assessment.  Within only a few massage sessions, instruction on foam rolling and some home stretching and rolling, and some strengthening exercises you will be seeing an improvement in your handicap, and comfort throughout the game.

 

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