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Natural Awakenings Boston

Injury-Proof Your Golf Game this Summer

May 31, 2012 11:10PM ● By David Oliver, DC


The National Golf Foundation reports that there are more than 26 million amateur golfers in the United States.  Many of them are non-athletes who spend most of the week sitting behind a desk. On weekends these aficionados take in as many rounds of golf as possible, not realizing that they aren't in the proper physical shape to meet the demands of this sport. Amateur golfers suffer countless injuries as a result, the most common of which is low back pain.

While golf is often thought of as an easy and low intensity sport, it’s actually quite the opposite.

Studies show that when amateur golfers are driving a ball off the tee they achieve approximately 90 percent of their peak muscle activity. This is equivalent to lifting a heavy weight that can only be raised about four times. When golfers in poor physical shape repeat this driving motion for several holes, they are likely to incur injuries. To better condition themselves for the golf course, people should take long brisk walks, do some light resistance training, and avoid prolonged sitting throughout the week.

Golf is a unilateral sport, meaning that the body only moves in one direction when a person is swinging the club. The average golfer swings his or her club well over 100 times each round, which involves contracting one set of muscles while stretching the opposite ones. By performing this unilateral motion multiple times, golfers are setting up muscle imbalances, which can lead to injuries over time. One way to counteract the problem is to take light practice swings in the opposite direction before each hole. For example, a right-handed golfer would take five gentle practice swings in a left-handed manner. It may feel awkward at first, but it will help to correct this muscle imbalance.

The constant twisting motion in golf requires players to have sufficient range of motion in their spines. If not, they will try to make up for any limitations by excessively moving other parts of their bodies. Golfers who increase their spinal range of motion are better able to tolerate repeated swings and produce more fluid swings with better power. This, in turn, can improve their driving distance and overall accuracy.

Golfers can improve their spinal rotation through stretching, special rotational exercises, and chiropractic adjustments that restore and maintain spinal mobility. Chiropractors who specialize in sports injuries and movement dysfunction can also help golfers to address and, more importantly, prevent musculoskeletal problems related to this sport.

Dr. David Oliver practices at Move Well Chiropractic, 1280 Centre St., Suite 210, in Newton Centre. For more information call 617-641-9999 or visit

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